Course Metadata

Course Number: HONR 3310 Meeting Room: Holmes Hall 472
Days & Time: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 1:35-2:40pm Professor: Ryan Cordell
Fall Office Hours: Mondays and Thursdays 10:30-11:45, and by appointment

Course Description

What is a book, and what might it become? Working in Northeastern’s experiential letterpress studio, Huskiana Press, and drawing on a wealth of resources in our campus and local communities, this course will be a historical, imaginative, and experiential introduction to one of the most enduring and influential human technologies, the book.

In this studio-based course, students investigate intersections among media, literature, and computation in order to understand the history of the book and imagine its future. Students cultivate new technical skills that will enable them to effectively use a range of historical and contemporary textual technologies, including letterpress, binding, 3D printing, and interactive, online storytelling. The course draws extensively on resources such as Huskiana Press, NU’s new experiential letterpress studio, and Snell Library’s 3D Printing Studio. Students use the skills they develop over the course of the semester to develop multimodal creative or research projects, building their own print-digital books. As a studio course, “Building a (Better) Book” centers around students’ conceiving, developing, and workshopping these independent projects. In addition, the course includes a number of trips to archives and museums around the Boston area such as the Massachusetts Historical Society, local letterpress shops, and Boston Cyberarts.


In developing this course I learned from many people and existing courses, such as Matthew Kirschenbaum’s graduate seminar, BookLab: How to Do Things with Books. I am especially grateful to have co-taught a version of this class in the summer of 2019 with Élika Ortega, from whom I learned an immense amount and without whom this current class could not exist, and to Kenny Oravetz for pointing me to Kit Davey’s incredible artist books. I am also grateful to Giordana Mecagni for her help developing the Zines unit and Regina Pagani for developing Snell’s collection of artist books.