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HIS 08 — The World’s Most Powerful and Extraordinary Books

Quarter: Summer
Instructor(s): Elaine Treharne
Duration: 4 weeks
Format/Location: On-campus
Date(s): Aug 8—Aug 29
Class Recording Available: No
Class Meeting Day: Thursdays
Grade Restriction: NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Class Meeting Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Tuition: $320
   
Refund Deadline: Aug 10
 
Unit(s): 0
   
Status: Open
 
Quarter: Summer
Day: Thursdays
Duration: 4 weeks
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Date(s): Aug 8—Aug 29
Unit(s): 0
Format/Location: On-campus
 
Tuition: $320
 
Refund Deadline: Aug 10
 
Instructor(s): Elaine Treharne
 
Grade Restriction: NGR only; no credit/letter grade
 
Recording Available: No
 
Status: Open
 
 
Throughout history, books have held the power both to enlighten and endanger, kill or save lives, change the world, and offer the allure of forbidden narratives. This course explores the history and influence of the codex by examining some of the world's most rare, strange, inspirational, dangerous, beautiful, and expensive books. Why are books banned and burned? What would prompt someone to pay $30 million for a book? What purpose lies in a book meant never to be read? Through dynamic lectures focused on detailed case studies, students will learn about the production, uses and misuses, and cultural value of manuscripts and printed works from circa 1000 BCE to the present day. We’ll learn about Gilgamesh, I Ching, the Codex Amiatinus, the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Diamond Sutra, the Domesday Book, versions of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, the Shakespeare Folios, The Book of Mormon, books of charms and magic, and of contemporary artists. Join us to discover why books are both revered and reviled, and leave with a newfound appreciation for the enduring magic held within pages and histories of the world's most extraordinary books.

Students may potentially have the opportunity to see, firsthand, some of Stanford’s own treasures in its special collections. More details will be provided in class.

ELAINE TREHARNE
Roberta Bowman Denning Professor of Humanities, Stanford

Elaine Treharne specializes in early textual cultures and manuscript studies. Most recently, she has published Perceptions of Medieval Manuscripts and The Cambridge Companion to Medieval British Manuscripts. She is the 2023 recipient of the Stanford Alumni Association's Richard W. Lyman Award. Treharne is a trustee of the National Library of Wales and a fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and of the Society of Antiquaries. She received a PhD in English from the University of Manchester.