EL6050 - Making Books

What will I learn on this module?

The eighteenth-century was a profoundly innovative moment in terms of the invention and development of the novel and the rapid expansion of the early book trade. But so often we read eighteenth-century fiction in modern, digitally-produced editions. How were eighteenth-century books first made? How are they made today? On this module, you will study individual literary texts alongside printing practices which have shaped and continue to contribute to the book trade. By studying literature through practical demonstrations and history of book production, you will build on previous knowledge gained in second and third year core modules in understanding how the book trade of today builds on the print cultures of the past. You will learn how to interpret as well as how to present and edit eighteenth-century literature, through being introduced to bibliographical and digital research methods. This module will enhance your knowledge and appreciation of eighteenth-century literature and build on your awareness of the print cultural contexts of book production in this period, including form, format, typography and editorial apparatus.

How will I learn on this module?

1 x weekly 3-hour session (half of these are seminars, the other half workshops)

This module is delivered in a series of seminars and workshops. The workshops are delivered in collaboration with the fine art and graphics departments. Each week we will be applying what we have learned about book production to our interpretation of a different literary text. The seminars will allow you to analyse the physical properties of literary texts (typography, page design, editorial apparatus, and format), reflecting on how these properties contribute to genre, meaning and style. The workshops will cover such practices as paper making, letterpress, screen-printing, relief printing. There will also be a session on digital methodologies, as well as an opportunity to handle and interpret rare books.

In each session the module tutor will introduce key concepts and ideas relevant to the week’s study, and you will be given the opportunity to explore primary and secondary sources and practical book making processes through individual practical exercises, small-group exercises, informal presentations and debate. Through this mode of delivery the module aims to instil in all students an ability to be active and independent learners, who are able to undertake their own research and be confidant participants in class discussion.

Outside of the classroom, you will be expected to undertake both directed learning (preparation for workshops) and independent learning (research and further reading in preparation for the assessment of the module).

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Students will be provided with a module reader at the beginning of the semester containing details of preparatory reading and questions to consider each week. These questions will form the basis of class discussion and provide students with a clear overview of what to expect in each class throughout the semester. Students will bring their reader to class each week, completing notes and responses which they can draw on in their subsequent assignments. The module handbook provides details of workshops, small group work, reading lists and assessment criteria; useful videos and resources are made available on the e-learning portal.

The module tutor will discuss the two forms of module assessment in class, providing a class-based practice run for the first assignment so students know what to expect, and meeting with students on a one-to-one basis to give feedback on their preparation. Moreover, feedback on formative work and the first summative assessment will also serve as ‘feed forward’, giving guidance on how to improve during the module.
The module tutor will be available in seminars and workshops, as well as in office hours and on email/phone, to discuss any queries or concerns you have about how to excel academically on the module.
In addition, you will have a designated Personal Guidance Tutor throughout the entire duration of your programme. The academic side of the Guidance Tutor’s role includes:
• monitoring your ongoing academic progress
• helping you to develop self-reflection skills necessary for continuous academic development
• directing you to further available services which can help them with their academic skills (e.g. Library’s Skills Plus)

You are advised to see your Guidance Tutor at least twice each semester to review your academic progress. The Guidance Booklet, which you receive at the start of your first year, includes structured materials designed to help you develop your self-reflection skills. These materials underpin the academic side of the regular Guidance meetings, helping you to learn how to best use the feedback you receive on your assignments, how to build on your strengths, and how to improve in the areas where you could perform better.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

1. knowledge of authorship and print history, books as physical objects, the book trade, and developments in literary form and genre.

2. advanced understanding of eighteenth-century literary culture, and the relationship between literary form and content.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

3. advanced ability to write and present complex ideas in an appropriate scholarly medium, as well as skills in undertaking primary research using electronic and non-electronic research tools

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

4. An awareness of the impact that processes of book production have upon literature and meaning.

5. The ability to communicate to others an advanced curiosity, creativity, intellectual openness and independence of reflective thought about how books are made.

How will I be assessed?


There are non-assessed (‘formative’) assignments.

Your formative assignment will comprise a short plan of an introduction to an edited text, and three sample annotations. Feedback on this exercise will be given in written form, returned in class. MLO 3, 5


There are two pieces of summative assessment.

In the first assignment you will explore the texts you have been studying in relation to their physical properties. You will write a 1500-word essay on the texts you found to be most stimulating and provocative. You will be asked to select one question from a choice of six. These questions will be made available in the module guide from the beginning of the semester. Questions must address two texts from the module but can be written about a single author. This assignment is worth 40%. You will receive feedback via written commentary. MLO 1-5.

Having built up your knowledge of how books were made in the eighteenth century, your second assignment allows you to put your new knowledge into practice. You will produce a scholarly edition of a short (or an extract of an) eighteenth-century text studied on the module. This scholarly edition will entail 2,500 words of your own original work (plus the extract from the eighteenth-century text) and will comprise three elements:
• a 1300-word introduction similar to those you find in a critical edition of a text
• a 700-word ‘note on the text’ similar to those found in scholarly editions of literary works, reflecting on your presentational decisions
• 500 words of annotations
This assignment is worth 60%. It will be due after all teaching has taken place. You will receive feedback via written commentary. MLO 1-5

Written feedback will be given on the summative assignments within the University’s standard number of working days on the standard feedback sheet.





Module abstract

Would you like to make books using a printing press? Through hands-on work with metal type, printing presses and lots of ink, this module invites you to luxuriate in the physicality of the printed book whilst analysing the practices of printing, editing, and publishing in the eighteenth century and today. It asks you to consider what the physical attributes of printed books contribute to literary meaning. We will analyse the page design of eighteenth-century books, the figurative representation of print and publishing in narrative, and consider how they are best presented in today’s market using current technology.

Together, we will print a piece of work and publish it at an end-of-term launch event. For your assessment, you will individually produce a scholarly edition of an eighteenth-century text. This module will provide you with a portfolio of work demonstrating your transferable skills into today’s book trade, and will interest students considering careers in editing, publishing, printing, librarianship, heritage, or further research.

Course info

UCAS Code Q320

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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