Colorado College first offered a minor in The Book during the 2009-10 academic year. This thematic minor, advised by Professor of History Carol Neel, examines the past, present, and future of the written word in its material form from the perspective of a variety of humanistic and social scientific disciplines.
Students in the minor are required to complete four related courses in at least three disciplines among the following: Studio Art and Art History, History, English, Film and Media Studies, Classics, and Religion.
Additional courses related to the minor are Book Arts and Letterpress, taught by Printer of The Press Aaron Cohick, and The History and Future of the Book, co-taught by Tutt librarians Steve Lawson and Jessy Randall.
Book Arts and Letterpress provides an introduction to the basic hand skills and problems of designing, printing, binding, and publishing books and bookish things. The class is structured like an “art laboratory,” says Cohick, in which students work on projects, share ideas, and learn from one another. On the technical side students learn the foundational elements of letterpress printing, including typography, hand typesetting, page composition, and how to set up and print on a Vandercook proofing press. They also learn a variety of bookbinding techniques, ranging from very simple books made by cutting and folding a sheet of paper, to hand sewn and bound hardcover books. On the conceptual side, students learn about the histories of artists’ books and independent publishing, and the challenges and opportunities that come with printing and publishing.
The History and Future of the Book is taught in alternating years and examines the development of technologies of the written word, from clay tablets and sheepskin scrolls to the manuscript codex, early printed book, modern printing, and digital text. The course questions the way reading, writing, and preserving texts intersect with identity, memory, and history, making extensive use of primary materials in Tutt Library’s Special Collections and incorporating a hands-on experience at The Press at Colorado College.