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Release: Immediate

UI Center for the Book awarded $25,000 NEH grant

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Center for the Book has won a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for a year-long program that will bring faculty from a range of disciplines together to study the cultural impact of the book and related changes in book production technologies. The group plans to strengthen and expand the UI's interdisciplinary curriculum in Book Studies.

Tim Barrett, director of the Center for the Book, said the UI project is unique because it combines the study of book arts and technologies of the book-such as papermaking, printing, and binding ­ with the study of the history of the book. This project will draw on the expertise of UI faculty from a wide range of disciplines to create a comprehensive program in Book Studies. This means that art students studying the book will have some background on the cultural and historical importance of the book while English or history students studying the book will also learn about book crafts and the book as an object with significant artifactual importance.

"Book Studies are a wonderful area for interdisciplinary collaboration because they bring together many people from across the humanities," Barrett said. "Together we constitute a community of specialists with interests in the book that now go well beyond the book crafts and technologies."

The UI Center for the Book includes 24 faculty members representing the departments of Asian Languages and Literature, Comparative Literature, Computer Science, English, French and Italian, German, History, and Rhetoric; the Schools of Art and Art History, Journalism and Mass Communications, Library and Information Science, and Religion; and the Graduate College, the Honors Program, the Translation Laboratory, and the UI Libraries.

The program to be funded by the NEH grant will bring together 13 of these faculty members to refine existing Book Studies courses, design two new courses, and begin work on a plan for the growth of both graduate and undergraduate interdisciplinary Book Studies curricula. Five nationally recognized experts who study various aspects of book history and book print culture will join the group for a series of seminars about the strengths of existing Book Studies courses at the UI and possibilities for new courses. The program will conclude with a week-long curriculum development workshop at the UI in June 1999.

"This year of study and development will allow us to create a cutting-edge program in Book Studies here at the University of Iowa," Barrett said. "No other institution has taken such a comprehensive approach to the study of all aspects of the book."

Because the UI has faculty strengths in so many aspects of book scholarship, the Center for the Book is poised to become a resource center for Book Studies students and scholars nationwide, Barrett said.

For more information about the project or the Center for the Book, contact Barrett at (319) 335-4410.