The Textbook Colloquium

    The Colloquium was founded in 1988 to promote the interdisciplinary study of textbooks. These books are neglected sites and indicators of social change; of the transmission of ideas; and of the obstacles encountered by ideas as they move toward public consciousness. The textbook provides not only primary evidence about what was taught but, in its prefaces, footnotes and in the text itself, evidence of authorial intentions, values and prejudices. The material form of a textbook --  the organisation and presentation of its subject matter, the design of the page, variations in type face and size, the relations of illustrations to text -- provides information on teaching methods and educational priorities. The textbook is also a commodity, and the changing relations between author, printer, publisher or commissioning body is of economic significance. Such books have often not been acceded by libraries, or if accessed not catalogued. In consequence they have been neglected by historians; a major function of the Colloquium is to make available information on the location --  sometimes the very existence -- of little-known textbooks.

    The Colloquium meets several times each year.We now have an official link with the University of London Institute of Education, where one meeting each year is held. We also meet in regional locations (so far, in about fifteen universities, schools and libraries) so as to contact local groups and individuals, and to explore library collections. Our meetings are informal, and consist of short papers followed by discussion.

    We have established links with the Book Trade History Group; the History of Education Society; the British Society for the History of Mathematics; the Centre for the Book (British Library); the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (sharp); the Childrenís Books History Society. The Colloquium was a founding member of the International Textbook Research Association.

    Other publications of the Colloquium are: Ian Michael Early Textbooks of English (£8). Christopher Stray Grinders and Grammars: A Mid-Victorian Controversy (out of print). Peter Musgrave To be an Australian? Victorian School Textbooks and National Identity 1895&endash;1965 (£6). All prices include postage. Orders should be sent to Chris A. Stray, Dept of Classics, University of Wales, Swansea SA2 8PP Wales, UK; e-mail:

    The Colloquium's website is at

    Paradigm is published by the Colloquium and is sent free to members. It includes full length and shorter papers, abstracts of papers given at meetings, reports and reviews. Sample issues are available from the Editor, John Issitt, 60 Danum Rd, Fulford, York YO10 4LE.

    The Colloquium's convenor is  Chris A. Stray, Department of Classics, University of Wales, Swansea SA2 8PP, Wales, UK, and the membership secretary is Mrs Jean Russell-Gebbett, 16 The Cloisters, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 2FR.