Tuesday, March 3, 2015

When you say the possibilities are pretty open....

Look, I've been working for years with students, friends, and peers. Many start out saying that they aren't creative and/or don't have many interesting ideas for the production of material objects. They're usually flat-out wrong about this...and I have the material evidence in my office and in my home to prove this!

What kinds of book-like objects have folks I know created over the years? A diverse range of items...but for a quick visual sampler of items produced by my former students that you might consider using as jumping off points for your own work, see below:

This text  (to your left) was created as a satirical zine about xenophobia by a student in a Feminist Theory course I taught at MSU, and it draws from course texts, as well as outside research, to articulate its pro-diversity message.

All three of these texts were created by students in a course on Methodologies of Literary History with a focus on Genre that I taught at MSU. I Want the Ocean Right Now reads like a traditional book; Farm girl opens up like a map and can be read in frames like a comic, and The Age of Data: The Death of a CD can be read in booklet form as well as listened to.

This booklet is a collaboratively-produced class text from an Introduction to Creative Writing course taught at MSU, in which each student contributed the first image/idea that came into his or her head when I said the word “love”. Students later used this as a guide to help them depict abstract concepts more concretely in their creative writing.

This text, collectively produced by a Drama and Performance Studies class I taught at MSU, is a series of “Calling Cards” based off of the work of philosopher and artist Adrian Piper (in which she created cards to hand out in conversation as commentaries and correctives to assumption-based discourse about issues of diversity and oppression); my students used this project to help them understand the dimensions of performance that are present in their everyday lives, as well as its import.

These three texts were produced by members of my Fall 2013 ENGL 205: Lit and the Moral Imagination courses (focused around Guilt, Forgiveness, and Atonement). They are “manifestos” in which the students were asked to express their own changed and deepened understanding of guilt, forgiveness, and/or atonement based on our course texts and conversations. The one entitled “My Manifesto” is actually a painting done on canvas; the other two are posters. 

Finally, this is an artist's book created by a student of mine from the same Methodologies of Literary History: Genre course mentioned above. The book, My name is, tackles issues of identity in complex, moving, and critically adventurous ways. I've included the text of the book's first page, to give a sense of what you'd encounter upon opening this volume.

So really--when I say the possibilities are open, I pretty much mean it! Get creating!!

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