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History of the Book II: Research Seminar


Admission requirements

Open to MA students of Book and Digital Media Studies. Other interested parties should contact the course coordinator.


We live in an era of information overload, where it is often challenging to distinguish between fact and fiction, and where there can seem to be too many (often contesting) answers to any question, all available at our fingertips. Finding appropriate data, filtering out irrelevancies, and recalling the vital are skills that we often take for granted. However, these techniques depend on a range of information management strategies which were developed throughout the history of the handwritten (manuscript) and early-printed book. Even illustrated tabulations, excerpt collections and alphabetic indices – seemingly innocuous devices for information storage and retrieval – had boundless potential to transmit and generate new knowledge. Using sources from Leiden’s world-leading library collections, students will locate and investigate material evidence for premodern strategies of information management. Throughout this course, the book will serve as our lens on the past, permitting us to interrogate the medieval and early-modern understanding of what needed to be remembered, by whom and for what purpose.

Course objectives

Students will be able:
1. To identify and critically appraise the efficacy of pre-modern strategies of information retrieval and management;
2. To learn and apply book historical methodologies in exploring, contextualising, and assessing primary and secondary sources;
3. To work independently on a case study showing a nuanced understanding of material developments in book and intellectual culture.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


  • Assignment I: (25%)

  • Assignment II: (75%)


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average. To pass the course, students must receive at least a pass grade (6.0) in the second written assignment.


In case of a fail students may resit the second written assignment.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

A reading list will be provided at the start of the course.


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal


Not applicable