Summer schools and short courses at the Institute of English Studies

Professor Clare Lees, Institute of English Studies director, and Dr Andrew Nash, director of the London Rare Books School, introduce this special issue of Talking Humanities, which describes the institute’s summer schools and short courses. These activities provide world renowned experts from academia and the public sector with opportunities to share their knowledge and experience with learners from across the globe.

Students from more than 40 countries have attended intensive courses on the London Rare Books School (LRBS), the London International Palaeography Summer School (LIPSS), the T. S. Eliot International Summer School, and the Nineteenth-Century Studies Summer School at the Institute of English Studies (IES).

Undergraduates and postgraduates join academics, poets, librarians, archivists, curators, book dealers, book collectors, local historians, genealogists, and interested members of the public in their fascination for books, manuscripts and literature.

Professor Isobel Armstrong, director of the Nineteenth-Century Summer School, stresses the ‘depth and intensity’ and shared learning that is at the heart of IES summer schools and short courses. A similar point is made by Cécile Varry, University of Paris, in her review of the 2019 T. S. Eliot International Summer School.  And this special issue of Talking Humanities also demonstrates just how wide, various and exciting seasonal schools can be with contributions from the UK, Canada, Singapore and Amsterdam.

The long read

The educational and career opportunities provided by the London Rare Books School

By Amy Kaufman, head law librarian at the William R. Lederman Law Library, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario

I had been a law librarian at a Canadian university for about ten years when I first heard about the London Rare Books School (LRBS) from colleagues in Special Collections. I wanted to work more knowledgeably with the law library’s older print collections, and I realised that I required – and wanted – greater knowledge in the History of the Book. It took very little deliberation to sign up for a week-long intensive course in one of the world centres of the book trade.

My first course was an engaging small seminar on the Early Modern Book in England that included field trips to the Stationers’ Guild and Lambeth Palace’s library and was rounded out by lunches, walking tours of Bloomsbury, and friendly gatherings with the LRBS students and instructors. During that week, when I learned these courses could be taken for credit toward a master’s degree in the History of the Book, it seemed like a dream come true to be able to turn this new mid-career interest into an area of sustained study.

What would it be like, I wondered, to continue to return to London over the next few years and delve more deeply into this fascinating discipline?

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