Spring 2023 - ENGL 415W D100

Seminar in Media, Culture and Performance (4)

Book in Age of Print

Class Number: 3988

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    AQ 4140, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Betty Schellenberg
    Office Hours: Tues. & Wed. 10h30-11h20, or by appointment
  • Prerequisites:

    45 units or two 300-division English courses.



Advanced seminar in 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. Writing.


The Book in the Age of Print
Many of us study English literature because books for us are objects of power with the ability to create profound change. Indeed, 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 history and culture of the printed book in the age of the hand-operated printing press – extending through almost four centuries from 1447, when Johannes Gutenberg first used his newly developed press to print multiple copies of books such as the 42-line Bible, to the early nineteenth century, when printing became industrialized with the invention of the steam press. We will also ask the broader question, “What is a book?”, considering non-book forms of communication such as wampum belts, as well as the cases of manuscript and digital books. The course will combine such theoretical reflections with several literary case studies and with hands-on work with rare books in the SFU Library’s Special Collections department.

The course will be divided into five modules:

1. The material book
2. Media ecology
3. The communications circuit
4. The culture of print: authors, readers, and audiences
5. The book across time and space


In each of the course modules students will:

  1. read articles to build a base of knowledge about the historical and theoretical background;
  2. work through a case study of a poem(s) written and published in the “Age of Print”;
  3. gain “hands-on” experience analyzing physical books or their digital remediations; and
  4. develop their rare-book profile based on an object in SFU Special Collections.

Assignments will include reading responses, presentations, short essays, and one written rare-book profile. Each essay’s preparation will involve some combination of drafting, peer editing, and argument pitching.


  • Class preparation (including reading responses & one discussion leadership) 20%
  • Participation (including in-class writing) 10%
  • 3 Essays (750-word analysis of intermediality in a poem (10%); 1000-word analysis of a poem in the communications circuit (15%); 1500-word comparative analysis of the author-audience relationship in two poems (20%) 45%
  • Rare book profile, including presentation 25%



Levy and Mole, eds. The Broadview Reader in Book History. 2015. (NB that this text is available only in print form; it can be purchased through the SFU bookstore.)

Werner. Studying Early Printed Books, 1450-1800: A Practical Guide. 2019. (This text is available in print and e-form, and can be purchased through the SFU bookstore.)


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

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 website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html 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. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html