Seminar explores rich written archives at Young Research Library and beyond

June 4, 2024
Tiffany Xiao I Daily Bruin

Most people may not consider an 18th century Chinese wood block a book. Yet Professor Matthew Fisher’s new English capstone seminar challenges students to reimagine what a “book” can be – a paperback novel, fruit labels or even a collection of bark fabrics.

Working in collaboration with the UCLA Library Special Collections in the Charles E. Young Research Library, Fisher said he created English 184.3: “Books in the Basement: New Encounters with Old Books” – a capstone seminar that teaches students how to discover primary sources and analyze them through a critical lens. The 15-student capstone class, which meets for three hours each week, consists mostly of seniors but is open to any student who has met its prerequisites.

Fisher’s experience researching medieval manuscripts and teaching seminars to library and information science, education and English graduate students inspired him in 2019 to create an undergraduate class exploring books – which has now come to fruition, he said.

“The library has these unbelievable treasures that one: most people don’t necessarily know about, and, two: can really very differently shape how we think about literature, how we argue about literature and how we think about books as objects – not just books as texts,” he said.

Read the full Daily Bruin article.

Image: A copy of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is pictured in the UCLA Library Special Collections at the Charles E. Young Research Library. The collection holds several first editions of classic books and material that dates back to 4000 B.C. (Megan Cai/Daily Bruin photo editor)