Erica Weaver’s 10A Clark Library / Special Collections Collaboration
January 8, 2024
Professor Erica Weaver recently worked with both UCLA’s Clark Library and Special Collections to introduce her English 10A students to rare books and manuscripts from UCLA’s collections.
Since the course is a survey of English Literature to 1700, the sessions focused on medieval and early modern material, giving roughly 120 English students an opportunity to examine first editions of several 17th-century works from the syllabus, including John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, and Margaret Cavendish’s Blazing World, alongside works like the quarto edition of William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, an early modern commonplace book with poems by John Donne, a medieval alchemical miscellany, a 9-1/2-foot-long genealogical roll of the kings of England, and a nearly 800-year-old Bible. Professor Weaver created four stations for students to explore, organized around themes like “The Age of Exploration” and “The Early Modern Stage.” Each table had at least one work from the syllabus, and students were tasked with figuring out which work it was and what the table’s overall theme might be. To do so, they were asked to play the role of archival detectives to determine whether the books were printed or handwritten on paper or parchment, what languages they included, and whether they could find any evidence of who owned, read, or used them, or how the books had circulated across time. In addition, students were invited to interact with a Materiality Table with items like uncut pieces of parchment, oak galls, lapis lazuli, a hand press, and quills in order to learn more about book history. Professor Weaver hopes to make the library session an ongoing feature of her 10A and is grateful to the Clark and Special Collections, especially Ikumi Crocoll, Amanda Galvez, Jimmy Zavala, and Jet Jacobs, for collaborating. View more photos from this collaboration on the W.A. Clark Memorial Library’s Instagram.