University of Oregon

LIB 199 — Art of the Book: Scribes to Graphic Artists

LIB 199 — Art of the Book: Scribes to Graphic Artists (Fall 2013)


James Fox & Marilyn Reaves

Course Description:

Imagine a medieval monk writing on animal skin with a bird’s quill.  Now picture a graphic novelist, using a computer or pen and ink to draw a sequence of images.  Both play a role in the history and art of the book.  How has the book evolved, and what does the book tell us about our culture?  How has reading changed from a spoken activity to a silent one, perhaps on a smart phone or iPad?  Illuminate these topics through reading, discussion, and hands-on practice.  Make a sewn book, write calligraphic scripts, set type, and draw pen-and-ink illustrations.  Explore rare books and medieval manuscripts found in the Library’s Special Collections.

Gateway to Majors: Anthropology, Classics, Comparative Literature, English, Folklore, Humanities, Journalism, Literature, Material & Product Studies

Course Details:  4 Credits  /  CRN 14423  / MW 2-3:50  /  201 Knight Library

About the Instructors:

James Fox & Marilyn Reaves

Teaching a Freshman Seminar gives us an opportunity to introduce incoming students to the long and rich history of the book, as both a human-made artifact and a means for transmitting culture, and to connect students with unique resources in the Knight Library’s special collections.

We believe that learning through things, learning from hands-on work, and hearing from real-life practitioners are engaging and rewarding approaches to teaching and study. In this class, we do all three. First, we undertake a close physical analysis of book forms to see how an understanding of these material objects can help us reconstruct and interpret the lifeways and culture of the past and the present. Then, we make books and write text using traditional binding structures and medieval and Renaissance scripts.

In this way, we can develop a deeper awareness and appreciation of the craftsmanship and art forms that go into creating books. Finally, we hear from people who write, print, or collect books, allowing us to better understand their cultural roles and to see how books function in society. Interwoven with these three approaches to studying the book are readings by book historians and others who challenge our thinking about the past, present, and future of the book.

Back to Freshman Seminars 2013-2014

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