Summer 2018 - ENGL 484W D100

Topics in Media, Culture and Performance (4)

Book in the Age of Print

Class Number: 7363

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    AQ 5004, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    One 300 division English course, or permission of instructor. Reserved for English honors, major, joint major and minor students.



Investigates and theorizes the relation of literature and media (manuscript, print, visual, aural, electronic, and/or oral) within their cultural and/or performative contexts. This course may be repeated for credit if a different topic is taught. Students with credit for ENGL 484 may not take this course for further credit. Students who obtained credit for English 484W prior to Summer 2015 may not take this course for further credit. Writing.


The Book in the Age of Print

The invention of movable type, in eleventh-century China and fifteenth-century Europe, has generally been considered one of the most significant developments in human history. This course will focus on the literary history and culture of the printed book in the age of the hand-operated printing press – extending from the mid-fifteenth century, when Johannes Gutenberg used his newly developed press to print multiple copies of the famous Gutenberg Bible, to the early nineteenth century, when printing became industrialized with the invention of the steam press. We will also give consideration to what “book” means both before the invention of printing and now in the digital age.

Our study will be divided into five modules: the material book, the communications circuit, the printing press as agent of change, intermediality, and the literary culture of writing and reading enabled by print.


In each of these five modules students will read articles to build up knowledge about the historical and theoretical background, gain “hands-on” experience with the printing process and with the physical book (sometimes through the virtual experience afforded by a database) through workshops or exploration activities, and work through a case study from the life and writing of the brilliant eighteenth-century poet Alexander Pope, who explored and exploited every aspect of the expanding universe of print to his advantage.

Assignments will include reading reports, presentations, the compilation of a commonplace book, and three short essays. The process of each essay’s preparation will involve some combination of drafting, revising, peer editing, and argument pitching. There will be no final exam.


  • Seminar preparation, participation, in-class writing 15%
  • Historical/Theoretical Reading report 10%
  • Rare book profile presentation (in pairs) 15%
  • Commonplace book 10%
  • Essays (750-word analysis of Pope poem in communications circuit (10%); 1000-word analysis of intermediality in Pope poem (15%); 1500-word analysis of a print phenomenon (e.g. authorship, the critic, the archive) as represented by Pope (20%) 50%



Levy and Mole, eds. The Broadview Reader in Book History. 2015. (available in SFU bookstore)
Any anthology of Restoration and eighteenth-century literature (e.g. Broadview, Norton, Longmans, Blackwell – any of these
   will contain numerous poems by Alexander Pope – please contact the professor if you don’t already own one of these)

Department Undergraduate Notes:

IMPORTANT NOTE Re 300 and 400 level courses: 75% of spaces in 300 level English courses, and 100% of spaces in 400 level English courses, are reserved for declared English Major, Minor, Extended Minor, Joint Major, and Honours students only, until open enrollment begins.

For all On-Campus Courses, please note the following:
- To receive credit for the course, students must complete all requirements.
- Tutorials/Seminars WILL be held the first week of classes.
- When choosing your schedule, remember to check "Show lab/tutorial sections" to see all Lecture/Seminar/Tutorial times required.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.