A discipline with the word ›book‹ in its name needs some explanation. The book is commonly understood as merely a collection of printed sheets of paper with various contents that can be bought in a bookshop or borrowed from a library. However, the variety of material objects does not in itself define the discipline: Study of the Book has to define its object of research as a formal object, in other words, it has to name the specific perspectives from which the material objects are being investigated.
The book is a medium of text-based communication. Written media, from the scroll and medieval manuscripts to modern print media like books, broadsheets, newspapers, and magazines and their electronic forms, have played a significant role in the organisation of societies in past and present. Their purpose was – and is – to inform, educate and entertain, but also to communicate social values and norms. Research in the Study of the Book revolves around the question as to how and in which ways the respective objects have enabled and shaped communication directly and across time and space.
The Study of the Book in Erlangen explores the book as a medium of text-based communication in the past and present.
The Study of the Book in Erlangen considers books in their cultural, economic and sociological dimensions. It is marked by an inter- and trans-disciplinary methodological pluralism that has its basis in hermeneutics and historical empiricism as well as economics, sociology and communication studies.