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Special Collections has been host to a growing number of class sessions in recent months, beginning with a January interim session course on The Art and History of the Book taught by Diane Shaw, special collections librarian and college archivist. The class’s 14 students spent three weeks looking at some of Skillman’s greatest treasures, including cuneiform tablets, an Egyptian papyrus, medieval manuscripts, and productions from the first century of printing. The course included lectures, films, workshops, and field trips.

The students practiced calligraphy, made paper, marbled paper, and set type. They read 19th century newspapers and dime novels and experimented with reading electronic books and poetry. They also shopped for rare books, identified first editions, and tested for acidic paper. Field trips included visits to the workshop of a fine bookbinder, the print shop of a local private press, and the Morgan Library in New York City to see an original copy of the Gutenberg Bible and other outstanding imprints.

Each student also completed a comprehensive curatorial report on the volume he or she had adopted from the Rare Book Collection, providing information on printer, place of printing, format, collation, typography, illustrations, decorations, binding history, provenance, condition, published references, monetary value, subject matter, and significance in the history of printing.

Classes making use of the Special Collections’ diverse holdings this semester include:

American Studies 362: Photography in American Culture
Examples of 19th century photographic formats and processes and Edward S. Curtis photogravures of the North American Indian. (Andrew Smith, instructor of English)

Art 221: Ancient Art
Second century Egyptian papyrus, Egyptian tablet, and Roman coins. (Ida Sinkevic, associate professor of art)

English 110: College Writing
African Americans at Lafayette College. (Deborah Byrd, associate professor of English)

English 327: The Victorians
Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend in monthly parts and selected issues of the periodicals All the Year Round, Household Words, Punch, and the Illustrated London News. (Virginia Zimmerman, visiting assistant professor of English)

German 321: Survey of German Literature before 1775
Art and history of the Nuremberg Chronicle. (Margarete Lamb-Faffelberger, associate professor of foreign languages and literatures)

History 106: Introduction to History, The 1960s
Primary source materials from the 1960s related to race relations, anti-war sentiment, and women’s liberation. Class projects used radical and conservative paperbacks in the rare book collection. (Donald Jackson, associate professor of history)

History 232: The American Revolution and Constitution
The Marquis de Lafayette in the American Revolution with particular emphasis on his relationship with George Washington. (Deborah Rosen, associate professor of history)

VAST 259: Science, Religion, and Revolution
The John M. Mecklin academic freedom case at Lafayette College, 1913-14. (Laura Walls, associate professor of English)

Categorized in: Academic News