College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Academics > History > Student Resources > Newberry Library Undergraduate Seminar

Newberry Library Undergraduate Seminar (NLUS) 2018

Censorship and Freedom of Expression in an Era of Religious Change: Western Europe, 1450-1789

Ready to apply?

Applications Due:
October 26, 2017, 11:59pm

Apply Now

What topics will be discussed
in NLUS 2018?

The seminar examines censorship and freedom of expression in early modern Western culture, from the fifteenth-century origins of moveable-type printing to the intellectual and political movements of the eighteenth century.

Read Course Description

What is the Newberry Library Undergraduate Seminar?

The Newberry Library Undergraduate Seminar (NLUS) provides an opportunity for DePaul undergraduates to participate in an intensive seminar and produce an original research project using the world-renowned collections of the Newberry Library. This is an especially important opportunity for students considering graduate study in history or the humanities.

Up to five DePaul students will be selected to participate in this seminar along with students from UIC, Roosevelt, and Loyola universities. During the first part of the course, students investigate topics related to the seminar’s theme and work with the various types of resources that the Newberry has to offer. Then, under the guidance of the instructors and using primary sources from the Newberry, they select a topic to explore and develop into a research paper and presentation. The seminar is team-taught by instructors from different disciplines. (See below for more information on this year's instructors.)

This is a semester-long seminar that meets at the Newberry Library (Clark/Division stop on the CTA's Red line), January 16 through May 3, 2018, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:00–5:00 p.m. Participating DePaul students will earn 9 hours of credit in two disciplines, enrolling in 4.5 credits during winter quarter 2018 and 4.5 credits in spring quarter 2018. (Students must complete the semester-long course to receive credit for either quarter.) The two departments or programs in which the student earns credit for NLUS participation will be determined by the student in consultation with his or her advisor and the relevant departments or programs.

Participation in NLUS also can be used to satisfy the Liberal Studies "Experiential Learning" requirement.

DePaul applicants should go ahead and register for WQ 2018 courses as they would otherwise. They should nonetheless be prepared to drop one course and to make Tuesday and Thursday afternoons available if they are accepted into NLUS. Applicants will know by Thanksgiving if they have been accepted.

Special Note for History majors: Successful completion of the Newberry Library Undergraduate Seminar in most cases can satisfy the gateway-capstone sequence requirement for HST majors (fulfilling the equivalent of a 300-level HST course and HST 390).

How do I apply?

Admission to the seminar is by application, and spaces are limited.
The application deadline is October 26, 2017, 11:59 pm.
Ready to apply? Apply now!​

Required Application Components:

  1. Written Statement: A written statement (maximum 500 words) explaining your preparation and reasons for participation in the Newberry Library seminar. You should discuss your interest in the topic (see brochure), courses that you have taken and experiences that you have had that prepare you for the seminar, and the ways in which you see this seminar relating to your short-term and long-term educational and/or career plans. Please include a discussion of your experience conducting academic research and any foreign language skills that you may have.
    (Note: Foreign language proficiency is not required.)
  2. Writing Sample: This should be a copy of a recent research paper or analytical essay (paper containing a thesis statement supported by evidence and analysis) that you have written for a college course.
  3. Unofficial DePaul transcript: You can print out a copy from​ Campus Connection.
  4. Brief Letter of Recommendation from Faculty Member: All applications require one letter of recommendation from a professor who is familiar with your work and can attest to your readiness to do intensive interdisciplinary study and independent library research. It should be sent to Prof. Tikoff via e-mail (to The letter need not be long, but please give your recommender ample time to write it and submit it by the application deadline. If your recommender has any questions, please have him or her contact Valentina Tikoff at 773-325-1570, or

NLUS 2018 Course Description:

This seminar examines censorship and freedom of expression in early modern Western culture, from the beginnings of moveable-type printing in the second half of the fifteenth century through the late eighteenth century, when claims for freedom of the press became a rallying cry for intellectual and political movements. The rich collections of the Newberry Library are exceptionally well suited to an exploration of this topic, for both well-known cases of censorship (such as Luther and Galileo) and more obscure examples of religious and political radicalism.

When Johannes Gutenberg introduced the printing press to Europe in the fifteenth century, he sparked an information revolution. The new technology accelerated the spread of ideas in Western culture and helped transform science, education, politics, and religion. Print culture played a key role in the expansion of the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century and in the myriad consequences that the Reformation unleashed. Since the press was inextricably linked to the spread of new ideas, it also had profound implications for the suppression of ideas and the regulation of the written word. The various editions of the Index of Prohibited Books—itself a printed book—is perhaps the best-known example of censorship in this era of religious turmoil, but it is not alone. Printers, guilds, monarchs, and other civic leaders—as well as Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish authorities—sought to control access to the printed word for economic, political, religious, and moral reasons. At the same time, this control was never absolute and usually involved multiple parties. Authors, artists, and printers employed a variety of strategies—from negotiation to subterfuge—to communicate their ideas through the mass dissemination that print afforded.

In the first half of the seminar, students will consider important scholarship and selected primary sources in the Newberry's collections. We will investigate the perspectives and roles of multiple players in the world of print culture, including author, printer, and censor; the history of the book and book production; the role of print culture in the development and spread of Renaissance humanism, religious movements, statecraft, philosophy, science, colonialism, and revolutionary causes; as well as the role of gender in both censorship and freedom of expression. In the second half of the seminar, each student will develop an original research project related to the seminar theme and based on materials held in the Newberry's collections. While students do not to know a language other than English to take this course, those who have reading knowledge of other languages will have the opportunity to conduct research in those languages.

This seminar is linked to the Newberry Library's 2017-2018 theme Religious Change, 1450-1700, "a multidisciplinary project exploring how religion and print challenged authority, upended society, and made the medieval world modern."​

Who is teaching the course?

The course will be taught by Drs. Glen Carman and Valentina Tikoff.

Glen Carman is Associate Professor and Director of the Spanish Program in the Department of Modern Languages at DePaul University. He specializes in the literature of early modern Spain and Latin America and is the author of Rhetorical Conquests: Cortés, Gómara, and Renaissance Imperialism (Purdue University Press, 2006). His current research focuses on the sixteenth-century debates over the wars of conquest.

Valentina Tikoff is Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Programs in the History Department at DePaul University, where she teaches early modern European and Atlantic history. Her research focuses on gender, family, and youth during the eighteenth century, appearing most recently in Who Writes for Black Children? African American Children's Literature before 1900 (eds. Katherine Capshaw and Anna Mae Duane, University of Minnesota Press, 2017) and Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture (forthcoming).​

For Questions or More Information

Contact Prof. Valentina Tikoff at or 773-325-1570.​