The History of the Book in the Early Modern Period: 1450 to 1800 Course - Trinity College Dublin


2 locations available
Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description


Explore the history of the book during the early modern period and learn how the invention of printing revolutionized our world.

Discover how books were made, sold and read between 1450 and 1800

The early modern period was an exciting time for invention and innovation. On this course, you’ll explore book production using examples from Trinity College Dublin and the Edward Worth Library, Dublin.

You’ll discover how books were made, bound and illustrated, and will study rare treasures including the engravings of Anthony Van Dyck, and early editions of Aesop’s Fables.

You’ll also consider how books were read and how the invention of printing impacted on religion, medicine, science and politics.

What topics will you cover?

  • Week 1
    How books were made in Western Europe (1450-1800) (designing types, illustrating, sewing, binding, and finishing books).
  • Week 2
    How books were sold in Western Europe (1450-1800) (bestsellers, collectors, advertising and book auctions).
  • Week 3
    How books were read in Western Europe (1450-1800) (books and readers, families libraries, and annotating books).
  • Week 4
    How books changed the world (1450-1800) (reforming religion, transforming medicine and science, and remaking the state).

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts.

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to:

  • Identify the different parts of an early modern book.
  • Reflect on how the invention of the printing press changed religious, scientific, medical and political views of the world.
  • Explain how early modern books were created.
  • Describe how the early modern book trade operated.
  • Classify provenance marks and annotations in early modern books.

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone interested in bookselling, book history and book design.

This may include collectors, dealers, artists, or anyone with a passion for reading and learning.

This course uses a large number of images and image databases for learners to explore. We have included text descriptions for these images to make the course as accessible as possible.

Who will you learn with?

Elizabethanne Boran

My name is Elizabethanne Boran and I'm the Librarian of the Edward Worth Library, Dublin. I'm a historian of early modern ideas with a particular interest in the History of the Book.

Jane Suzanne Carroll

I am a Ussher Assistant Professor in Children's Literature at Trinity College Dublin and the co-director of the MPhil in Children's Literature.

Mark Sweetnam

Mark Sweetnam is Assistant Professor of English with Digital Humanities at Trinity College Dublin.

Joseph Clarke

As a lecturer in European History at Trinity College Dublin, my research focusses on Europe in the long eighteenth century.

Who developed the course?

Trinity College Dublin

Founded in 1592, Trinity College Dublin is Ireland’s highest-ranked university. It promotes a diverse, interdisciplinary environment to nurture ground-breaking research, innovation, and creativity.

Join this course



$259.99 for one year

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  • Access to this course for 6 weeks

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  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • Access to this course’s tests as well as a print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible

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  • Access to this course, and hundreds of other FutureLearn short courses and tests for a year
  • A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
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Last updated Sep 2020

About the School

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Learn 100% online with world-class universities and industry experts. Develop your career, learn a new skill, or pursue your hobbies with flexible online courses. Read less
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