Case Studies aspire to science. Stories of teaching and learning aspire to poetry.
I'd like to start by considering this volume's unwieldy title: teaching bibliography, textual criticism, and book history. I fumbled about for a shorter, hipper, sexier title, something pithy and smart. But in describing our field, I was thwarted by ‘interdisciplinarity run riot’ (to co-opt a phrase from Robert Darnton) – by history of books, history of the book, print culture, manuscript circulation, readers and reading, textuality, materiality, textual studies, textual editing, documentary editing, descriptive or analytical bibliography, authorship, etc. – in other words, by the diversity of terms practitioners use to describe their courses and course contents. Would a teacher wanting ideas for using textual criticism know to look at a book whose title only included book history? Would a teacher wanting ideas about print culture (who would look for book history in a title) know that bibliography included her interests? and so forth.
The most elegant solution would likely have been to call the volume simply Teaching Bibliography, alluding to D. F. McKenzie's term in his 1985 Panizzi lectures, the ‘sociology of the book’ which includes not only its history but its making and its continuing reception. (In fact,I’ll use that term throughout this introduction, not as a disciplinary marker – though it might be – but as a convenient short-hand for the field in all its facets, then shift to specific terms when talking about particular courses.)