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Book Studies Concentration

Students looking at books in the Mortimer Rare Book Room

The Concentration in Book Studies connects students with the exceptional resources of the Mortimer Rare Book Room and the wealth of book artists and craftspeople of the Pioneer Valley. Book studies is fueled by the intellectual energy and excitement released when a student’s reading and classroom study collide with hands-on work in fields such as book design, bookbinding, paper and printmaking, publishing, printing, libraries and special collections. Students in this concentration learn to read in a new way; each book becomes an archaeological site for exploring the history of its design, production, promotion and dissemination, as well as the sources of its craftsmanship and beauty. 

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About the Book Studies Concentration

The Book Studies Concentration is designed for bibliophiles—students who love books in all their forms and platforms—and who may be considering future work in publishing, libraries, teaching, graphic design and typography, book arts or information technology. Book studies combines classroom study, independent research and relevant hands-on experience. It will provide you with an introduction to the history, art and technology of the book, broadly defined to encompass oral memory and papyrus scrolls as well as manuscripts, printed books and digital media. Book studies will also connect you with the exceptional resources of the Mortimer Rare Book Collection, the wealth of book artists, craftspeople, small publishers and fine presses of the Pioneer Valley, and the unusual richness of book-related courses found in the Five College area. This concentration is interdisciplinary, allowing you to take classes offered by a wide range of departments and programs.

Course Requirements

The concentration is composed of six courses. In addition to the gateway course and the senior capstone seminar, a student must take one required core courses and three electives, chosen to support an area of focus. In addition, students are required to engage in two practical learning experiences in some field of book studies. The combined course work will total no fewer than 19 credits; the internships and practical learning experiences carry no credit.

Gateway Course:

BKX 120 ARX/BKX/MUX Gateway (new Spring 2023)
2 credits

This course serves as a shared gateway for the Archives, Book Studies, and Museums concentrations. Students will explore histories, futures, and systems of knowledge production, preservation, organization, and distribution through the kinds of objects and evidence held by archives, libraries, and museums. As evidence of their evolving and complex operations, this course introduces the history of such institutions, their evolving public mission, issues central to their work today, and the creation and uses of materials they hold. The course critically engages the emergence of such institutions, specifically within this regional context and in this framework of a college campus.

BKX 140 Perspectives on Book Studies (no longer offered)
1 credit

The gateway course, BKX 140 Perspectives on Book Studies, is a weeklong, 1-credit, interterm course that presents the major foci of the concentration—the manufacture, publication, distribution, reception and survival of book—in a series of interactive workshops that expose students to the variety of subjects relevant to the concentration. These include graphic arts, the production and transmission of texts, literacy and the sociology of the book. The course is directed by Douglas Patey and features members of the advisory committee and others on a rotational basis. The course may be supplemented from time to time with lectures from the many distinguished book studies people in the Pioneer Valley.

One Required Core Course

ENG/HSC 207 The Technology of Reading and Writing 
4 credits

An introductory exploration of the physical forms that knowledge and communication have taken in the West, from ancient oral cultures to modern print-literate culture. Our main interest is in discovering how what is said and thought in a culture reflects its available kinds of literacy and media of communication. Topics to include poetry and memory in oral cultures; the invention of writing; the invention of prose; literature and science in a script culture; the coming of printing; changing concepts of publication, authorship and originality; movements toward standardization in language; the fundamentally transformative effects of electronic communication. 

Three Electives

12 credits
Three existing courses—at Smith or any Five College department or program—that address the themes and concerns of the Book Studies Concentration and are approved by the Book Studies Advisory Committee. At least one of the courses must engage with the materials and process involved in creating physical books, such as typography, book arts, or printmaking. 

Practical Learning Experiences

Practical learning experiences or internships are an integral element of the Book Studies Concentration. Students will complete two practical learning experiences (paid or supported by Praxis or the Rosenthal Fellowship) that provide practical, first-hand knowledge of publishing, printing, librarianship or any of the other professions and crafts that are encompassed by book studies. Students are responsible for researching and securing appropriate internships from the wide array of local, regional, national and international internships identified by the concentration advisers. Each internship needs to be approved by the student’s concentration adviser. See below for the forms you will need to complete and have signed by your adviser. 

Senior Capstone Seminar: BKX 300

2 credits, graded S/U
The culminating experience for the Book Studies Concentration is an independent research project that synthesizes the student’s academic and practical experiences in the concentration. Book studies concentrators design capstone projects in a wide variety of areas that include medieval manuscripts, early and fine printing, book illustration, children’s picture books, the book trade, artists’ books, censorship, the history of publishing, the secrets of today’s bestsellers, the social history of books and literacy, the history of libraries and book collecting, and the effects of the current digital revolution on the material book.

Students complete the capstone and receive credit in the fall semester of the senior year; in spring they participate in a public presentation, ordinarily at Celebrating Collaborations in April, though other venues are possible, including web presentations. The concentration director approves the proposed projects. Projects may be supervised by members of the BKX steering committee or by other faculty members, or the concentration director may choose to supervise a set of related projects and meet with the seniors in a weekly seminar. Rising senior concentrators choose their projects and enlist their project supervisors in the spring of their junior year in time for the advising period for fall courses.

To earn the 2 credits carried by this course, students design projects comparable in time and effort to half of a full 4-credit course at Smith. In recent years, senior projects have included researching a notable rare book or other artifact from the Mortimer Rare Book Room collection or from another collection, such as the Berkshire Law Library, creating an artist’s book, writing and illustrating a children’s book, creating a work of digital art or a website, and designing and hand printing a volume of fiction or poetry. The book studies umbrella is very wide and students are encouraged to think creatively about how best to draw together their work in the concentration.

Not all of these courses are offered each year. Consult the Smith College Course Search for current offerings and times.

American Studies

  • AMS 171: The Material Culture of New England, 1630–1860
  • AMS 353: Native Literacies to 1880 (spring 2013)

Art History

  • ARH 268: The Artist Book in the 20th Century
  • ARH 101: Advertising and Visual Culture
  • ARH 268: Advertising and Visual Culture
  • ARH : Making Knowledge (Leibsohn, Spring 2016)
  • ARH 280: ARt Historical Studies: Approaches to Manga & Anime (Y. Guo, fall 2017)
  • ARH 291: The Presence of the Past: Libraries as Building Type (B. Kellym, spring 2018)
  • ARH 352: Art and Natural History: Beasts and Bestiaries (B. Buettner, fall 2017)

Studio Art

  • ARS 275: The Book: Theory and Priactice I (Moser, fall)
  • ARS 375: The Book: Theory and Practice II (Moser, spring)

Comparative Literature

  • CLT 100: The Pleasure of Reading
  • CLT 220: Imagining Language (Bruzelius)

East Asian Language & Literature

  • EAL 237: Chinese Poetry and the Other Arts

Education & Child Study

  • ECS 210: Literacy in Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • ECS 338: Children Learning to Read

English Language & Literature

  • ENG 228: Children's Literature
  • ENG 238: What Jane Austen Read (fall)
  • ENG 238: Victorian Medievalism
  • ENG 312:  Seminar: Converts, Criminals and Fugitives: Print Culture of the African American Diaspora (A. Stone, spring 2018)

German Studies

  • GER 249: Exhibiting the Visual Arts of Germany

Jewish Studies

  • JUD 110j: Introduction to Yiddish (J-term)

Presidential Seminars

  • PRS 306: Beowulf and Archaeology

Not all of these courses are offered each year. Consult the Five College Course Guide for current offerings and times.

Amherst College

  • ENGL 01-04: Visuality and Literature
  • ENGL 272: Primer to Children’s Lit (Sanchez-Eppler)
  • ENGL 397: Editors and Authors (Acker)
  • ENGL: 05-01: Reading Historically
  • FAMS 485-01: Word/Life/Image

Hampshire College

  • CS 111: The Emergence of Literacy
  • HACU 120: The Anatormy of Pictures
  • HACU 233: Media Overload (Block)
  • HACU 334: The Collector: Theory and Practice
  • HACU 330: Books, Book Arts, Artists' Books, Bibliophilia
  • HACU 204: Artists’ Books
  • SS 244: Reading/Writing/Citizenship
  • SS/HACU 220-01: Dangerous Books: Introduction to Textuality and Culture
  • HACU 140-01: Comics Underground: Unconventional Comics in the U.S.

Mount Holyoke College

  • ARTH 271: Arts of Islam: Book, Mosque, and Palace
  • ARTH 301: Illuminated Manuscripts
  • ARTST 226: Digital Artists Books
  • ARTST 256: Printmaking
  • ARTST 264: Word and Image
  • ARTST 267: Papermaking with Local Plants (Hachiyanagi, fall semester)
  • ARTST 269: Japanese Papermaking (Hachiyanagi, spring semester)
  • ARTST 280: Multiples and Improvisations (Ginsberg, spring semester)
  • ENGL 283: Graphic Narrative (Young)
  • ENGL 317: Studies in Renaissance Literature: Renaissance Theater and the Early Modern Book

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

  • COMP LIT 234: Myth, Folktale and Children's Literature
  • COMP LIT 391cb: Comparative Book Cultures: Medieval
  • COMP LIT 393b: Comic Art in North America (Couch)
  • COMP LIT 393c: International Graphic Novel (Couch)
  • ENG 300: The History of the Book (Black)
  • ENG 491: The Origins of Reading
  • JUDAIC 392N: Jewish Graphic Novel
  • HST: Renaissance Humanism

Internships & Practical Experiences

Internships and practical experiences are an integral element of the Book Studies Concentration. You will complete two internships (paid or supported by Praxis) that enable you to acquire practical, first-hand knowledge. You may also research and secure your own internship, in consultation with your concentration adviser. Recent book studies concentrators have interned at the Library of Congress, the San Francisco Public Library, the publications department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Grolier Club, the Bodleian Library at Oxford University and many other exciting places.

These are some of the most interesting and promising internships currently known to us. We can recommend them as being particularly appropriate for book studies concentrators. There are other book-related summer interships in the database of the Lazarus Center for Career Development. In the meantime, if you have any questions about these internships, or about other recent ones listed below, please contact Nichole Calero.

Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

125 West Bay Road
Amherst, MA
The Eric Carle Museum offers a variety of internships across departments. Check the internship program page for information about programs, applying and deadlines. The current art educator of the museum is Sara Ottomano, a Smith alumna and a former book studies concentrator.

SOTC Intern at the Cleveland Museum of Art


The Cleveland Museum of Art’s Ingalls Library is one of the largest art research libraries in the United States. The library is renowned for the quality and breadth of its collection, which includes almost 45,000 objects and spans 6,000 years of achievement in the arts with 540,000+ volumes and a staff of 20.

Summer on the Cuyahoga is an immersive summer internship program that brings together 50–70 students from eight universities to explore the professional, civic and social offerings of the Cleveland area. SOTC provides interns with free housing in college dormitories, substantial cultural and recreational activities, and alumni connections.

The Ingalls Library Digitization Program endeavors to make rare, fragile and highly used library and archives materials widely available. Responsibilities will include working with the digitization team to scan books, photographs, and archival materials, conduct copyright research, process digital files, create metadata, and upload materials to online portals for public access. The intern will work with a wide variety of library staff and will gain an understanding of how the library and digitization program supports the wider functions of the museum as a whole.


This position is not open to first-year students.

The intern is required to participate fully in Summer on the Cuyahoga, including living in provided housing, attending after-work events and engaging with Smith alumnae.

Please submit a resume and cover letter before March 1st, 2020, to Rachel McPherson at

These are examples of recent internships, and similar ones may be available. Check with your adviser about what would fulfill your requirement, and with the Lazarus Center to see what may be available.

Babylon Revisited Rare Books (Easthampon, MA)

For the past two summers (2018 & 2019) these booksellers had a part-time paid position, which went to a BKX student. This was a summer position, and the hours worked counted toward the internship requirements.

Wide Awake Garage (Easthampton, MA)

Daniel E. Kelm is a book artist who enjoys expanding the concept of the book. During the academic year of 2016–17, he sought three interns to help create an inventory. Duties included cataloging/documenting 110 publishing projects of the production archive of the Wide Awake Garage (Kelm’s studio). This was an unpaid internship during studio hours, 10 a.m–5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Interns could design an individual schedule (days/hours) within open studio hours. View selected works by Dan Kelm.

Historic Deerfield (Deerfield, MA)

The Summer Fellowship Program in History and Material Culture is a residential living and learning opportunity, where accepted applicants received a fellowship, room and board; some were also awarded stipends to compensate for the loss of summer income.

North Atlantic Books (Berkley, CA)

North Atlantic Books, an independent nonprofit publishing company, sponsored an editorial production internship. The work consisted of proofreading, checking indexes, applying for catalog-in-publication data, research projects, writing press releases, building contact lists, and writing for blogs and social media.

Advisory Committee

Acting Director

Lily Gurton-Wachter
Associate Professor of English                                             

Advisory Committee

Lindsey Clark-Ryan
Assistant Professor of Art

Susan Fliss
Dean of Libraries

Barry Moser
Irwin & Pauline Alper Glass Professor of Art and Printer to the College 

Jessica Moyer
Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages & Cultures

Elizabeth Myers
Director of Special Collections

Douglas Patey
Profesor of English Language & Literature

Cornelia Pearsall
Professor of English Language & Literature

Andrea Stone
Associate Professor of English

Shannon K Supple 
Curator of Rare Books

Lynne Yamamoto
Professor of Art


Declaration of Concentration

Students who have been accepted into the concentration and received their adviser’s name need to fill out the
Program of Study Declaration Form.
This is the last step in making the concentration official in Workday.

Practical Experience Forms

After discussing the proposed practical experience with their advisers, students need to fill out the corresponding practical experience approval form in order to have the experience count towards the concentration requirements:

  • Summer Internship (100 hours or more)—Internship Credit Application
    All students undertaking a summer internship of at least 100 hours are eligible to receive academic credit (0.25 credits per experience) that will appear on their transcript. We encourage all students who qualify to apply for internship credit. Students applying for Praxis funding don’t need to fill out this form, and should instead use the “Praxis with Credit” form below.
  • Unpaid Summer Internship (220 hours or more)—Praxis with Credit Application
    All Smith students are eligible to receive a stipend payment for one normally unpaid internship through the Praxis program at the Lazarus Center. These internships must take place during the summer, and must comprise at least 220 working hours. Students in Concentrations are eligible to apply for Praxis a second time– Praxis Plus. When applying for a Praxis internship, the applicant must specify if the internship counts towards a concentration and should fill out the “Praxis with Credit” application.
  • Other Internships and Practical Experiences
    Students whose internships do not meet the above requirements because they take place during Interterm, during the school year, or for any other reason, should fill out the following forms.
    Prior to starting the internship please fill out the Practical Experience Approval Form.
    Upon completion of the practical experience please fill out the Practical Experience Completion Form.
  • Retroactive Credit for an Experience
    Students who completed a practical experience relevant to the concentration prior to being accepted into the cohort should discuss the experience with their concentration adviser as soon as possible. Once the experience is approved, students must fill out the Practical Experience Completion Form and check the “Retroactive Experience” box on the form.

Advising Checklist for Graduation

Students are required to submit a completed Concentration Advising Checklist at the start of their final semester. This form documents the completed components of the concentration requirements, and must be signed by the student’s concentration adviser. Completed form should be sent to the registrar’s office ( and to the administrative coordinator for concentrations (

How to Apply

To apply for the Book Studies Concentration, log in and fill out the online application. You may apply to the concentration in your sophomore or junior year.

Fall 2022 application deadline passed.



Concentration in Book Studies

Young Library 219J
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01060

Director: Lily Gurton-Wachter
Administrative Assistant: Veeka Trofimova