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MLA 2020: Bibliopedagogy

1 reply, 2 voices Last updated by  Madeline Gangnes 1 year ago
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    Laura Forsberg

    Please consider attending our forum’s session on “Bibliopedagogy” at MLA in Seattle on Thursday, 9 January in WSCC – 401. Our panel features three presentations:

    “Student-Scribe: A Hands-On Approach to Codicology and Book History” — Sarah J. Sprouse and Sarah Banschbach Valles

    “Rewriting the Canon: Cultivating Student Creativity in the Classroom” — Leila Walker

    “The Uninhibited Archive: Teaching Book History through Public Exhibition” — Alex Mueller and Cheryl Nixon

    We hope to see you in Seattle! Full panel descriptions are below:

    “Student-Scribe: A Hands-On Approach to Codicology and Book History” — Sarah J. Sprouse (U of Alabama, Tuscaloosa) and Sarah Banschbach Valles (Texas Tech U)

    Abstract: Based on an experimental course design that was implemented in the Fall 2018 semester, this paper will examine as a case study the use of a semester-long project encompassing manuscript culture, the theory of scholarly editing, and digital humanities. As instructor of the junior-level class “Book History: Evolution of the Page from Scribe to Print,” I assigned the creation of a commonplace book as a touchstone project that bridged students from the medieval to the early modern periods. Using period-appropriate materials and an experiential approach, students were guided through the process of trimming quills, binding books with a Coptic stitch, and cultivation of paleographic skills to copy out excerpts from Middle English manuscripts online. After the completion of their books, students were directed through multiple workshops and sub-tasks as they created a print edition of a peer’s commonplace book and, finally, a digital edition that incorporated the commonplace book, the commonplace book’s source texts, and the print edition. The print edition and digital edition projects were assigned to groups, and thus collaboration was an essential element of these assignments. With its focus on kinesthetic learning, the assignment design envisioned the commonplace book as not just an artefact produced as a means of understanding composition practices and material culture, but also as a means of thinking through editorial practices, and for discussing textual transmission, authorship, and the instability and malleability of texts. Furthermore, the assignments stemming from the commonplace book allowed students to understand the variety of ways they can contribute to scholarship, and an opportunity for students to better understand the field. This paper will offer a brief overview of the scaffolded assignments from the commonplace book to the digital edition, a discussion of the methodology of the approach, a reflection on “lessons learned,” and recommendations for acquiring materials.

    “Rewriting the Canon: Cultivating Student Creativity in the Classroom” — Leila Walker (Queens C, City U of New York)

    Abstract: How do we make composition whole when our source exists in fragments? How do we teach a unity of purpose when our sources are multiple?In this presentation, I will introduce an assignment sequence that explores the relationship between intertextuality, manuscript history, and material culture in a writing-intensive course.  Illustrated with examples of student work (provided with permission, of course), this presentation demonstrates how a series of low-stakes, collaborative projects can be scaffolded toward truly breathtaking creative work at a four-year, public commuter college with one of the most diverse student bodies in the US.I have taught two versions of this course over four semesters and refined the sequence based on student feedback. Each course focuses on a single canonical text (in one case The Tempest, in another Frankenstein) and its literary legacy.In-class assignments include collaborative close reading and re-writing, analysis of the relationship between manuscript and printed text, group performances, collaborative annotations of digital representations of material culture, and textual interventions. For their final project, students adapt one or more text in a medium of their choice and write a short reflection paper explaining their artistic choices. The results are pretty amazing.

    Rooted in the radical pedagogy of Jodi Shipka, Asao B. Inoue, and Mya Poe, as well as the traditional bibliography and book history of Philip Gaskell and Charles Robinson, this assignment sequence gives students power in the production of book history. By focusing on the history of manuscript editions, revisions, adaptations, performances, and nontextual representations of these texts, students come to understand these canonical texts as meaningful in different ways at different historical moments, and learn to take ownership of these texts in the present.

    “The Uninhibited Archive: Teaching Book History through Public Exhibition” — Alex Mueller (U of Massachusetts, Boston) and Cheryl Nixon (Fort Lewis C)

    Abstract: Every archive has rules for accessing materials. Some require white gloves, some require letters of introduction, and some require constant surveillance. There are good reasons for such restrictions – carelessness, overuse, and theft can all lead to the loss or destruction of rare books. While this commitment to preservation mitigates damage to the archive, it can inflict greater damage to its interpretive community. In Archive Fever, Jacques Derrida traces the origins of the word “archive” to the Greek arkheion, the depository of official documents protected by guardians known as archons. The power of the archive depends partially on its exclusivity, but its defense against external forces prevents the archive from transmitting its cultural memories to the public.

    We seek to engage this archive fever through a pedagogy of public exhibition, focusing on our efforts to make book history accessible to both students and audiences. Working at UMass Boston, a public urban, majority-minority institution, we have partnered with institutions committed to educational outreach to a wide citizenry. Our courses teach students with no rare books experience to identify, access, examine, describe, and curate rare material, all in an effort to make it available to the public. We draw on our experiences of teaching on-site – both locally at the Boston Public Library and internationally at the University of Bologna – to provide strategies for creating accessible rare books exhibitions in both library and digital spaces. These strategies include: 1) open-ended book discovery assignments, 2) student-run “show and tell” sessions, and 3) collaborative exhibition design.



    Madeline Gangnes

    If it’s of interest to anyone, I livetweeted this excellent panel:

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