What plans are you making to teach with rare books and manuscripts when classes are canceled and campuses closed? Let’s brainstorm what we need to get through this pandemic and how to build for future changes. Share your tips and ask your questions in this open thread!
I guess I'll add this: I created am exercise for how to work with digital images about a year ago, when I was building out EarlyPrintedBooks.com. Long-time readers/followers know that I really believe that digital images are different creatures than analog books, and this exercise was designed to get students to start thinking about that. http://www.earlyprintedbooks.com/whats-a-digital-image/
Hi, all! I'm super excited to have this conversation and to see what's possible now and what we might need to build for the future. One online discussion along these line was prompted by a tweet from Haven Hawley. There are some great suggestions in that thread: https://twitter.com/ehh_ptr/status/1235346170458836992.
I'm often amazed by what students have in their own collections; could be a great chance to share and discuss them virtually; looking at how the market is structured online might be interesting, e.g., could students identify items (and perhaps ethical issues) of things on Ebay, etc.
several ideas have been posted in this twitter thread: https://twitter.com/john_overholt/status/1237004943434735616
Home with what I hope is just a cold, drinking tea, so thought I'd jump in and try to do something productive today. My initial thought is to look at rare materials created or existing in the midst of epidemics, i.e. give our current situation an historical context. I can't get the plague mask that was on display in the Luther exhibition a few years ago at the Morgan, MIA, and Emory as a starting point. From there I might try to point to some of the research I believe has been done on trying to identify medieval manuscripts that were present at the sites of plague. Bottom line, I'd maybe begin with a short reading list that provides an historical perspective on epidemics and the items/materials that have survived and are now available for us to study. Tim Johnson UMN Minneapolis (in case this post doesn't ID the poster).
I’m writing from Argentina. Since our libraries are very different to those from the USA or the UK, we are very used to work with online rare materials and books and their specificity. I think that today many possibilities of working with this kind of materials are related to learn how to deal with digital archives and the increasing number of digitalized rare books. For example, Omeka is a very useful platform to create particular corpus of already digitalized books (https://omeka.org/). For each item (for example, a rare book), you can include images, PDFs, documents and so on. Omeka is like a catalogue that allows you to work with both visual and descriptive components. I think distance learning in book history is a preparation for the future: not just to teach what to do with the specific materiality of one rare book, but to learn how to manage our research interests within the largest library that has ever existed.
A quick side bar: I think this discussion would also introduce students to rare book twitter or other social media platforms and allow them the opportunity to follow who they find interesting on these platforms (and for us to cultivate new followers). A small side benefit to moving everything online, but one that might have lasting value for everyone, and may as a result introduce a student to our areas of expertise and get them thinking about future careers or grad school.
Our small cuneiform and papyri collections, along with medieval manuscript leaves have been digitized, so these would be available to students for use. These are regularly used by one of our design faculty. I know he would be disappointed that students wouldn't have face-to-face experience with the materials (something we value), but beyond their physical value the students would be able to do much related to their assignments. This also opens the possibility of an online discussion about questions of value, e.g. a chance to introduce students to other facets of value, many of which are expressed in the SAA glossary. This, in turn, might lead to another discussion about cultural value and the idea of repatriation and current discussions, for example, in the EU about the Elgin Marbles. So our online exploration of "early printed fun" would then expand to other topics and more crowd-sourcing opportunities to identify articles in the literature that address these topics, provide readings for students, and additional class discussions.
After providing a historical background--and this assumes that I'm teaching and not supporting a faculty member in their teaching--I might invite students to explore and suggest their own online resources, i.e. I'd use the class to crowd-source and build a list of materials. I might suggest HathiTrust, Smithosonian, LC, Princeton's book binding exhibit, etc. as starting points, or suggest broad areas under which students could group their results, e.g. early forms (cuneiform, papyri), medieval manuscripts (plus their production and use), early printing, artists' books, typography and design, etc. Then I'd let them go to it and see what they come up with. I like the idea suggested in another comment about Omeka exhibits as another source. There are some amazing online exhibitions out there that would assist in instruction and offer additional discussion points with students.
I do not see how I can explain how incunabula are made, explored and described online.
Epidemiology Materials have same characteristics as other ephemera (epidemic = "over," out go Materials.
One last, "add,"
Details of the immune system's workings are still ring worked-out.
To add, in wireless conversations, "vintage-style "contributions" may be being created, right now.
Half of the effort is, locating your "stuff."
Thanks, Sarah, for starting this thread, and to everyone for all the excellent ideas!
Since all the teaching I do right now is for classes visiting the collections, I might take the excuse to reach out to some of the courses I have scheduled and see if they want to think up ways to tie some of what they would want their students to see into comparison with other online resources.
If I can put in a shameless plug for a resource, the Archaeology of Reading (https://archaeologyofreading.org/) has transcribed and translated annotations from a small sample of early modern books by two sixteenth-century English readers. As part of my work with the project I designed small exercises to walk people through some of the topics and the platform without just giving them a sequence of "how to" steps to follow. Those are available here: https://archaeologyofreading.org/pedagogy/.
If anyone wants to use them (or the project in general), I'm happy to talk about possible collaborations, answer questions, or help plan, and would love to hear feedback!
If I'm supporting a faculty member with their instruction, then I need to work with lists of materials they've suggested from past sessions (thus the value of having long-term working relationships with faculty) and see if we can find online surrogates that students might use. The difficulty in at least one class scenario is that students are interested in questions of provenance. The older acquisitions ledgers that exist in our university archives have not been digitized, nor have our shelflist cards (which we saved decades ago during the conversion to an online catalog and contain dealer and other information, e.g. price) so these are inaccessible for student use. In the same way, an online surrogate will not contain copy specific information, e.g. stamps, notations, marginalia, so all we have to work with is what might exist in an online copy specific to another institution.
This is fantastic, Sarah!
I’m leading a MA module with two-hour sessions: one hour of discussion/lecture plus one hour to examine and discuss rare printed materials related to the topic. A key pedagogical benefit is that students learn how to handle early modern books—and how to identify and interpret evidence within them, and how to use that evidence critically. A typical session might involve students comparing pairs of books, then presenting their pair to the class, followed by time for self-guided exploration and discussion about the artefacts.
I’m at a loss. I’ll have to change the structure, fine—but the next session is about printing techniques for illustrations, and digital facsimiles can be too lo-res or ‘flattened’ by, say, bright ring lighting and post-processing. Perhaps that ’digital facsimile vs original object’ should be the topic of this object session?
But I wouldn’t know how to sustain that discussion over many sessions without entirely changing the structure and learning aims of the course.
We've seen a spike in interest in using our crowdsourced transcription software from a campus that has been shut down, and it only occurred to me yesterday that this might be correlated.