Physical Bibliography (2017)

The largely Anglo-Saxon discipline of analytical bibliography offers an archaeology of the printed book. The course offers a practical introduction to the analysis and description of documents typeset by hand and printed on the common press before 1800. The aim is to familiarise students with the many ways in which books reveal how they were produced, who printed them, and where.

Physical bibliography is an indispensable tool for scholarly editors of rare books, for historians who need to check the validity of printed sources, and for librarians and collectors requiring a full understanding of the books in their collections. It provides the means of reconstituting the genealogy of successive editions of a given text, of identifying forgeries and pirate editions published under false addresses in order to circumvent the censors, and of identifying 'manipulations' by unscrupulous booksellers, and fakes which have been put on the market at various times.

Topics include: basic concepts and definitions; history of the theory and practice of analytical bibliography; the organisation of early printing shops; precise methods of book description (in particular collational formulae); the importance of comparing different copies of the same book (variants, press corrections, cancels, reprintings); the detection of counterfeit copies, false imprints and forgeries; the identification of typical booking styles.

Course in French.