In Fall 2017, Professor Tamara Goeglein taught 34 first-year students in her Connections 185 course, entitled “Who Reads Books?” The coursework explored the many connections among readers, the act of reading, and books. What do we mean when we talk about books? And readers? And the act of reading?
About readers? We learned that fast-food restaurants need menus with pictures because one-third of Americans are either illiterate or read below a 5th-grade level.
About the act of reading? We learned that reading fiction produces empathy in us. We learned that our eyes can fixate on only 20 letters at a time, which means our eyes are always moving while we read.
About books? We learned that books come in many forms and formats: scrolls, manuscript and printed codex books, and electronic books (such as the Internet, smart-phones, and e-readers).
A good portion of the course used “high impact pedagogy” to explore the varieties of books and the book arts, from bindings and illustrations to cover designs and typography. We made paper with Art Professor Virginia Maksymowicz. We laid our eyes and hands on rare books with Librarian Christopher Raab in F&M’s Special Collections & Archives.
We also studied F&M’s impressive collection of artists’ books—an artists’ book self-consciously marries its material form and its intellectual content. Each student adopted an artists’ book and came to understand how and what it meant.
And, we made books as our final project!
Librarian Louise Kulp—curator of the artists’ book collection in Special Collections and book artist—was our mentor for understanding and making our own artists’ books.
Thanks Bonchek College House and Ware College House for sponsoring our book-making project and College-wide reception!
As a book-end to this project: Special Collections acquired two of the students’ artists’ books.
Here are pictures of our making books. Writers House offered us studio space. Thanks Writers House!
Here are pictures of our book exhibition and reception in the Academy Room of the Shadek-Fackenthal Library. Thanks F&M Library!