Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds We’re living in the great digital revolution which presents us with many opportunities and challenges for sharing information with one another. But this isn’t the first revolution of this kind that our world has faced. The invention of printing in the 15th century revolutionised our understanding of the world. This course explores the rise of the printed book in the West and examines how previous generations lived in this interesting and innovative time. Together, we are going to look at how books were made, sold, and read from the 15th century until the late 18th century. And in the last week of the course, we’ll investigate how books changed the world.
Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds We’re going to use the riches housed in the beautiful long room of Trinity College Dublin and the Edward Worth Library in Dublin. The long room, built in the early 18th century and expanded in the 19th, holds 200,000 volumes. Its collections date from the foundation of Trinity College in 1592 and it offers readers a treasure trove of manuscript and print material.
Skip to 1 minute and 14 seconds The Edward Worth Library is considerably smaller. It contains around 4,300 volumes which belonged to an early 18th century Dublin physician called Edward Worth, 1676-1733. Housed in Dr. Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin, it’s just an invaluable resource for historians of the book for two reasons. First, Worth was a connoisseur collector interested in rare printings and fine bindings. Second, he ensured that his collection was maintained in a unique state of preservation, allowing us to see books in their original, or at least early 18th century, condition. In week one, we’re going to explore the origins of printing and investigate the process of making books.
Skip to 1 minute and 58 seconds We look at books of great historical interest, like the Gutenberg Bible, wonderful woodcuts such as those in the famous Theuerdank, 1517, and beautiful bindings, such as this book belonging to Henry II of France 1519-1559. We’ll look at how books were illustrated and examine case studies from our libraries, like the etchings and engravings by Anthony van Dyck. We’ll also look at early modern editions of stories you may already be familiar with, such as Aesop’s Fables. In week two, we’ll move on to explore how books were bought and sold, starting with bestsellers such as the Bible and the huge market in children’s books. In week three, we’ll be thinking about how books are read.
Skip to 2 minutes and 40 seconds We’ll think about who read them, and why, and how we can trace the interactions of readers with their books through the centuries. We’re also going to look at family libraries and think about how books passed from generation to generation. In week four, we’ll look at some of the revolutionary changes print culture inspired and expressed as early modern Europeans articulated and encountered new ways of thinking about religion, science, and the state on the printed page. Join us in this free online course from Trinity College Dublin and the Edward Worth Library in Dublin.