Do you love printed paper and wonder how much longer it will survive in the age of ebooks? Are you curious about how the mass-produced modern book emerged in the first place? Come behind the scenes in Harvard’s libraries to explore the look, feel and even smell of nineteenth-century British and American books in this module of The Book: Histories Across Time and Space.
In 19th-century Britain and America, schooling expanded, paper cheapened, and new technologies allowed print to reach wider audiences than ever before. After the rare and beautiful manuscripts and books showcased by earlier modules, the mass-produced, disposable objects that survive from the nineteenth century bear witness to the rise of the reading public.
This module investigates what scholars know about nineteenth-century reading, as well as how they know it.
This module’s six sections guide you through underlined, inscribed, defaced and repaired books in Harvard’s collections:
1. Name That Book
Find out what you can tell about a book when you’re blindfolded.
2. Handheld Books and Mobile Readers
What book did one soldier carry to Civil War battlefields in his pocket? (Hint: it’s not what you think.)
3. The Pen and the Needle
Did 19th-century girls have to choose between sewing and reading? The holes pricked in one book suggest they did both at once.
4. Leaving your Mark
Luckily for future historians, these children didn’t listen when people told them not to write in their books.
5. Detective Work
Try out some tools that build on what you’ve learned about books at Harvard to discover the stories hidden in your local library.
6. Over to You
Your chance to share what you have found in the books around you.
Join us, and discover how people in the first information age read, underlined, and repaired the pages that they treasured.
HarvardX requires individuals who enroll in its courses on edX to abide by the terms of the edX honor code. HarvardX will take appropriate corrective action in response to violations of the edX honor code, which may include dismissal from the HarvardX course; revocation of any certificates received for the HarvardX course; or other remedies as circumstances warrant. No refunds will be issued in the case of corrective action for such violations. Enrollees who are taking HarvardX courses as part of another program will also be governed by the academic policies of those programs.
HarvardX pursues the science of learning. By registering as an online learner in an HX course, you will also participate in research about learning. Read our research statement to learn more.
Harvard University and HarvardX are committed to maintaining a safe and healthy educational and work environment in which no member of the community is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination or harassment in our program. All members of the HarvardX community are expected to abide by Harvard policies on nondiscrimination, including sexual harassment, and the edX Terms of Service. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and/or report your experience through the edX contact form.