“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: October edition

Once again, given the vagaries of The Collation‘s schedule and upcoming federal holidays, I’m posting the next month’s crocodile mystery at the end of this month. So don’t worry about how quickly the year is flying by: it is still September for a few more days! Some of you will immediately recognize what category of object this is, so I invite additional speculations in the comments below about the nature of this object, its details, and what we might learn from studying it. All will be revealed in my post on Monday!

Early modern book history: it’s not just for English majors

Every seminar I teach on early modern book history, I like to start with a class asking what is book history? We read Robert Darnton’s essay, of course, along with pieces from D. F. McKenzie and Roger Chartier, along with some supplemental readings (this year, those included a piece on medieval books and some work from a pair of economic historians). One of the reasons I like to start the term this way is it warms up students and gets them thinking about methodological issues while they’re learning about book history and material texts so that they can be informed explorers of the field. The question is not simply “what is book history?” but “what are the disciplinary biases in studying books and where do I fit in?” ((My approach to this topic has been greatly influenced by Leslie Howsam’s Old Books and New Histories: An Orientation to Studies in…