EN2BB-The Business of Books

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Nicola Wilson

Email: n.l.wilson@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:
This module will develop and enhance students’ knowledge and understanding of the book as a technology and provide the critical skills with which to consider the history and future of its form. Through a combination of theoretical, methodological and hands-on teaching sessions and workshops, we will study the role and function of books in selected places, historical periods, and institutional contexts, including the library, the book shop, the publishing house, and the board room.

The module aims to equip students with an understanding of the history and future of the book as a technology. It introduces a range of perspectives on the ‘business’ of books, including concepts of authorship and production, dissemination, circulation and reception. Students will learn about the function of books in different disciplinary contexts (including business, typography, libraries, and publishers’ archives) through hands-on workshops and practical teaching sessions. Through secondary reading, personal reflection and a variety of assessment tasks they will be encouraged to engage critically and publically in debates on the past and future of the writing, publishing and reading of books.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that students will be able to:
-demonstrate an understanding of the history and futures of the book as a technology and a form
-discuss the production, dissemination and reception of books in selected time periods and places
-show detailed knowledge of the parts and construction of the book and be able to identify key material features, paratexts, and bibliographical codes
-understand the role, function, and value of the book in a number of different contexts outside the classroom
-show awareness of some of the skills and methodologies needed in working with books in different contexts
-engage critically with the ideas presented in lectures, seminars, workshops and in secondary material

Additional outcomes:

Oral and written communication skills will be developed, together with critical, interpretative and analytical abilities. Students will also enhance their IT competence through the use of relevant web resources in a critically informed manner. The summative assessment, with the production of an individual portfolio and a practical skills assessment, allows the opportunity to engage with the module creatively and in a public-facing manner.

Outline content:
Topics likely to be covered include: theoretical formulations of the history of the book; bibliographical codes (typefaces, margins, book prices, page format); the ‘book’ expanded (chapbooks, paperbacks, serials); making books (print and type); e-books and the future of books; authors and authorship; books in the publishing house (sales, marketing, editing); books in the book shop (displays, audiences, customers); books in the library (preservation, book-binding, cataloguing).

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Teaching will be by a weekly two-hour seminar, for which students are required to do preparatory reading. Students are also entitled to a tutorial on their formative written work. With the consent of the module convenor, students may also undertake a placement, through which they will learn how to apply the knowledge and skills gained in studying for this module in a professional context outside the University.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 30
Tutorials 0.5
Guided independent study: 129.5 40
Total hours by term 161 40
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Portfolio 30
Project output other than dissertation 50
Oral assessment and presentation 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Formative assessment methods:

Work which provides opportunities to improve performance (e.g. through feedback provided) but which does not necessarily always contribute towards the overall module mark: Students keep a working journal reflecting on the weekly content of their learning. They will receive feedback on this during the course of the module. Feedback will also be provided on seminar contribution and performance through an individual tutorial in preparation for the component of oral assessment/or feedback on an informal presentation in class. Final assessment will be by the completed learning journal, an assessed presentation on a choice of topics provided, and an essay or project of c. 2,500 words drawing on the learning undertaken over the module. Written feedback will be provided on all three components.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    A mark of at least 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re-examination in September. Coursework will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Otherwise it must be resubmitted by 25 August 2018

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    1) Required text books

    Last updated: 8 April 2019


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