Fall 2019

In the Archives of Childhood: Adventures in Book History

Listed in: American Studies, as AMST-367  |  English, as ENGL-416


Karen J. Sanchez-Eppler (Section 01)


(Offered as ENGL 416 and AMST 367) Children’s books have always been part toy. The odd duality of all books–simultaneously object and text, commodity and meaning–is particularly evident in books made for children. Think how much more varied in the shape and size of volumes, the font and layout of print, the style and quantity of illustration are books intended for children compared to books for adults. Sites of innovation and experimentation in book production, children’s literature provides an excellent ground for studying book history. So too, book history provides a good gauge of shifts in cultural attitudes towards childhood. This course is interested in tracing both the history of childhood and the history of books, and what each can tell us about the other.

The course will provide an extraordinary opportunity for original archival research in the world’s finest collection of early American children’s literature. Half of the course meetings will be held at the American Antiquarian Society, in Worcester, Massachusetts, granting students access to one of America’s premier research libraries and enabling students to work directly with the rare materials housed there and with the society’s knowledgeable curators and librarians. This research will culminate in a substantial independent project.

Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. This course meets for 180 minutes. On days when the class meets at the American Antiquarian Society students should expect to leave Amherst at 1 p.m. and return by 6:30 p.m. Fall semester. Professor K. Sánchez-Eppler.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to English and American Studies majors and students in other departments with a particular interest in archival research.


Attention to Research, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2019