The Victoria Press via the Victoria Press Circle project

Class Schedule

Using this Schedule

Reading Due Dates

You should complete the readings listed under a given class session before that class begins. Any in-class assignments we complete will assume you have fully prepared all required readings for that day.

Course Reading Packet

Most of our readings this semester are freely available online. There are a few books you will need to purchase—see the required texts—a few you will need to download in this password-protect, zipped course packet. I will share the password to expand this zip file in class on the first day of class.

A Key to Alerts

These red alert boxes signal a change of our typical schedule, such as meeting in a location outside the classroom or altered office hours during the week.

These orange alert boxes signal an assignment due date.

These information boxes signal an in-class lab that we will work on together. As the semester progresses I will add links to the lab assignments to these boxes. Your fieldbook reports are due within a week of a lab session, or the final lab session for those which extend through multiple class sessions, as indicated by the presence of letters (e.g. 5a and 5b).

Preface ☛ re:Mediation

Tuesday, January 9: Romancing the Book

Introduction to the course and to each other

Friday, January 12: Media Messages

Lab #1: Markdown

For this lab you will need a plain-text editor. These free editors are markdown-aware:


Chapter 1 ☛ Inscription

During the week below I will be traveling from Thursday, January 18-Saturday, January 20. I will not hold my usual office hours this week. Our practicum students will lead the workshop on Friday, January 19.

Tuesday, January 16: Orality & Literacy


  • James Gleick, The Information, prologue-chapter 2 (pg. 3-50)
  • Octavia Butler, “Speech Sounds”

Friday, January 19: Making Language Visible

Prof. Cordell away today; practicum students will lead this lab at the MFA.

Lab #2: Visible Language

Meet at the Museum of Fine Arts group entrance: off Museum Road on the west side of the building.


  • Christopher Woods, “Visible Language: The Earliest Writing Systems”

Tuesday, January 23: Manuscript

Lab 3: Simulating the Scriptorium



This week I will not hold my usual office hours. I will hold hours on Wednesday, January 24 from 10-12.

Friday, January 26: Dead Media Workshop

Prof. Cordell away; practicum students will supervise a work session for Dead Media projects.

Tuesday, January 30: Vivifying Media

Chapter 2 ☛ Impression

Friday, February 2: Book Tech

Lab 4: Thinking with the Codex

Meet in the Northeastern Archives & Special Collections, 92 Snell Library (in the basement)


Tuesday, February 6: Into the Matrix

Lab 5a: Preparing to Print


  • James Gleick, The Information, chapter 3 (pg. 51-77)
  • Ann Blair, “Introduction” from Too Much To Know (2010)


Optional, but quite useful:

Friday, February 9: The Business of Print

Lab 5b: Planning Your Print Project


Read (optional):

  • Lisa Gitelman, “Print Culture (Other Than Codex): Job Printing and Its Importance”

Watch (Optional)

Tuesday, February 13: Typecasting

Lab 6a: Composing & Imposing


(Optional) Watch:

Friday, February 16: A Mechanical Mind

Lab 6b: Pulling the Press!


  • Ellen Cushman, “‘We’re Taking the Genius of Sequoyah into This Century’: The Cherokee Syllabary, Peoplehood, and Perseverance”
  • Articles about the Victoria Press
    • M. M. H., “A Ramble with Mrs. Grundy: A Visit to the Victoria Printing Press,” English Woman’s Journal (1860)
    • “The Victoria Press,” Illustrated London News (15 June 1861)
    • Emily Faithfull, “Women Compositors,” English Woman’s Journal (1861)

Tuesday, February 20: Media & Moral Panic


Friday, February 23: Format

Lab 7: Deciphering Physical Books


  • Jane Austen, Letters to her sister Cassandra (these are in order so you can read down from the first link to the next two letters):
  • Charles W. Chesnutt, “Baxter’s Procustes”
  • Leah Price, “Introduction” to How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain

This week I will will be traveling from Tuesday, February 27 (at night) until Thursday, March 1. I will not hold my usual Thursday office hours this week.

Chapter 3 ☛ Read-Write-Execute

Tuesday, February 27: Annihilating Time & Space


  • James Gleick, The Information, chapters 4-6 (pg. 78-203)
  • Henry David Thoreau on the telegraph

Friday, March 2: Circulation


Spring Break, March 4-10

Monday, March 12

DUE: Unessay 1 by 5pm

Tuesday, March 13: SNOW DAYA Pocket Universe


Friday, March 16: A Pocket Universe

Lab 8: Computational Reading I (words & ngrams)


Tuesday, March 20: Text as Data


Read (optional):

Friday, March 23: Open Lab

Professor Cordell away: Open Lab with practicum students to catch up with R programming labs

Tuesday, March 27: Machine Writing

Lab 9: Computational Reading II (sentiments & topics)


Chapter 4 ☛ Memory

Friday, March 30: Obsolescence

Lab 10: Computational Writing (Building a Bot)


Farewell - ETAOIN SHRDLU - 1978 from Linotype: The Film on Vimeo.


Tuesday, April 3: An Index of All Knowledge Processing Words


  • James Gleick, The Information, chapter 14-epilogue (pg. 373-426)
  • Jorge Louis Borges, “The Library of Babel”

(Optional) Read/Browse:


+ David M. Berry and Jan Rybicki, “The Author Signal, Nietzsche’s Typewriter and Medium Theory” + Matthew Kirschenbaum, “This Faithful Machine” + ——, “Technology changes how authors write, but the big impact isn’t on their style”

Friday, April 6: The Book is Dead (Long Live the Book)

Lab 11: Electronic Books



Elektrobiblioteka / Electrolibrary from printscreen on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 10: Because Survival is Insufficient


Friday, April 13: The Museum of Civilization


Tuesday, April 17: Symphonies & Newspapers


+ Ted Chiang, “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”

Epilogue ☛ ☛ ☛ ☛ ☛

Friday, April 20

DUE: Unessay 2 by 5pm