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Building the Book
from the Ancient World to the Present Day
Ruth-Ellen St. Onge
We have all been taught how to read books. But what can we learn by looking closely at their material forms? This richly illustrated volume walks readers through the unique collections of Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, an international institute founded by MacArthur Fellow Terry Belanger that brings together leading curators, librarians, book historians, curators, and collectors from around the world to teach and learn about books as physical objects. Featuring images of more than two hundred artifacts that illustrate the changing forms of the book over more than two millennia, Building the Book from the Ancient World to the Present Day offers a close and
deep look into how books are constructed, decorated, and marked over the course of their sometimes long and varied lives. The descriptions of these carefully curated objects—which range from papyrus and clay inscriptions to artists’ books and e-readers—are detailed in their research and collaborative in their scope, documenting key methods and techniques used at Rare Book School to teach today’s cultural heritage professionals how to identify, date, and describe important works from the past, the bedrock of the world’s cultural memory.
At the same time, Building the Book calls attention to how books are valued in different ways and how they continue to be redefined—featuring rarely seen works from communities and makers, past and living—including some who have been forgotten or silenced within the historical record. Inclusive in its approach, this illuminating volume will prove engaging and instructive for cultural heritage professionals and general booklovers alike.
This is also the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition, Building the Book from the Ancient World to the Present Day: Five Decades of Rare Book School & the Book Arts Press, held at the Grolier Club from
28 September – 23 December 2022.
334 pages • 262 full-color images • 11 x 8 in.
hardcover, sewn • isbn 9781953421104 • $44.95
This book is available through the
University of Virgina Press