This course unit will provide an introduction to the discipline of book history via a study of some of the incarnations of the seminal Italian book, Dante's Divine Comedy. Rather than focusing on the authored text, however, we will investigate instead the material form of the book, through manuscript, print, and digital media. In this way, we can analyse both the relationship between the text and its material form and wider issues around the production, dissemination and reception of the book-object in various reading communities. The course will use, where appropriate, primary material held in the John Rylands Library (e.g., manuscripts, incunabula, early print books, etc.).
With a focus on individual research throughout, students are encouraged to explore their own interests and choose a final essay topic in discussion with the tutor.