Check this out. Don’t miss the streaming video, with its Renaissance-y soundtrack. It’s quite excellent.
An excerpt from the article:
During weekly, three-hour classes, students study with a Folger scholar to learn how early books were made, the role they played in shaping culture, and how the medium of print and its reproduction shape a text’s meaning. Part of the course focuses on properly handling the fragile books; unlike other undergraduate book history classes that must use photos or digital reproductions, this course allows GW students to get up-close and personal with texts. They can touch the holes left by bookworms, finger the leaves of faded paper, and study the fonts and illustrations that make the books unique. The seminar, say students and professors alike, is an unparalleled opportunity for scholarship and discovery.
“It’s really one of a kind. There is no other university in the United States or anywhere in the world that can offer this because no other university has that connection to the Folger,” says professor Jeffrey Cohen, chairman of GW’s English department and the seminar’s University coordinator. “We want the students to be challenged, we want them to grow, and we want them to appreciate that they have something very few people have the chance to experience.”
Outside of the organized class, the students have readership rights at the Folger for the full academic year. With their own library cards, they can access the vast collection of more than 256,000 books, 60,000 manuscripts, and 250,000 playbills at the building on Capitol Hill. For some, such as Rohrbach and seniors Chris Pugh and Phil Getz, the privilege allowed them to pursue original research, which they presented to Folger staff and GW’s Board of Trustees last spring.
GW and the Folger have had a long, thriving relationship. The University was a charter member in the library’s advanced study center, the Folger Institute, when it started in 1970, and GW today is one of more than 40 colleges and universities in the world involved in the consortium. For the past decade, the University also has helped finance the Folger publication and scholarly journal Shakespeare Quarterly. Many of the University’s professors have tapped into the library’s wealth of materials while creating connections: Gail Kern Paster, an English professor at GW for nearly 30 years, became the Folger Shakespeare Library’s director in 2002.