The central work of this class will be an original book project you will conceive, develop, and produce over the course of the semester. As we will see in our readings and other investigations, the word “book” can mean many things. Your projects can likewise take many forms and include a range of media: e.g. a letterpress chapbook, a zine, an altered book, an interactive digital book, or something else. I strongly encourage you to develop a book project that blends at least two of the media we will discuss together, but you could do more, and you might choose to use a medium we do not cover in class.
The content of your book will be entirely up to you. You might draw on your home discipline, a favorite hobby, or a cultural interest, among other possibilities. Your book can contain original content or remediate existing material (though if you choose the latter we will need to work together to ensure we follow intellectual property laws). Your final book will be due in time for class presentations during the last two days of class.
You may work individually or collaboratively on these projects, with the understanding that collaborative projects should reflect more work in proportion to the size of their respective teams. In order to keep this project on track, we will observe several milestones throughout the semester. We will determine the precise dates for these milestones together in the early days of class, but you should expect to submit the following:
Early in the semester, you will submit a proposal outlining the book project you hope to complete, as well as the steps required to do so.
Regardless of how they are prepared, each proposal should describe:
- The content of your book. What will it be about?
- The format of your book. Will it be printed and bound? A zine? An ebook? A hybrid? Something else?
- The skills you will need in order to execute your project, as well as a plan for acquiring those skills, particularly if they are not skills we will formally study together. There will be class periods devoted to individual learning that can be used to facilitate such supplemental skill development.
- The materials you will need to complete your project, as well as a plan for acquiring these materials.
- The equipment you will need in order to complete your project, as well as a plan for accessing that equipment. Some of this equipment may be readily available through Huskiana Press (attached to our classroom), but even so you should outline a plan for use.
- The team working on your book. Is this an individual or group project? If the latter, what does each member bring to the group?
- A plan for evaluating the project. What are your goals for this book, and how will we know whether and to what extent those goals have been met?
We will evaluate your proposals together in order to ensure they are well outlined and scoped appropriately. All proposals need to be accepted before you move on to the next stage of development.
What you will submit during the prototype stage will vary widely by project, but it should essentially be a proof of concept: evidence that the plan you outlined in your proposal is feasible and that you are on track toward completion. Among other possibilities, you might submit:
- A few pages from a longer printed project
- A set of conceptual drawings or wireframes from a graphic project
- A stylesheet and sample page(s) from a digital project
The primary goal for the prototype is to demonstrate steady progress on your project up to the point of submission, likely around mid-semester. If your project has significantly shifted from what was proposed and accepted at the proposal stage, the prototype stage will also be the point at which you will submit a revised project proposal.
Your project should result in a final object, set of objects, or digital artifact, as well as an artist(s) statement describing what you have accomplished in your project. These will be due a little before the end of the semester, in time for the final project showcase on the last day of class.
Your final project must include an artist(s) statement, likely a few pages in length, outlining the aims of your project and how you achieved those aims. Like the projects themselves, these statements will vary widely, but they should help readers/users understand the theories of the book your project seeks to instantiate, the methods and materials you used in producing your book, and any habits of reading required to fully understand your book project. In short, your statement should summarize the intellectual work of your semester so that the labor of your project—both physical and mental—is clear.
Final Project Showcase
On the last day of class you will present your projects to each other and to interested members of the campus community. We will discuss this event in more detail as the end of the semester approaches.