APPLICATION OPENS DECEMBER 4 FOR SUMMER 2021

Beyond the Book: Text, Image, and Experiments in the In-between

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

This course will explore the possibilities of what we can make, quite literally, from our own experience: what happens when our hand doesn’t stop moving, goes from writing to visual art and back again? We will draw on a combination of creative nonfiction, poetry, and collage, and, working from personal experience and the world around us, make physical objects (chapbooks, hybrid essays, comics, etc.) that blend forms and themes, and ask: what is “creative work”? In what ways can social media and technology contribute to the creative process, and how can they help us see alternative examples of the “book”? How can they hinder it? How can we look at the personal—our past and present experience, the ways we interact with the world, the ways we talk to ourselves and synthesize our surroundings—as a way to connect with individuals and the world at large?

While this course is primarily a generative one—we will make creative work, every day—we’ll get inspiration by looking at various examples of creative pieces incorporating word and image, such as graphic novels, illustrated essays, tumblr accounts, children’s books, zines (the John Hay special collections has a great zine collection!), and artist books. We’ll get out into the world, as well, taking walks, small field trips to nearby places like the RISD Nature Lab, and readings/art shows/other on-campus events. We will gather material from what’s around us, and will also conduct self-experiments to work on new ways of making writing and art.

Assignments will be given primarily in the form of short readings with creative responses, ultimately leading to the creation of a personal “essay” (whatever that might look like!) that incorporates the written and visual. There is no prerequisite for confidence as a writer and artist: the goal is to work with our strengths, and challenge ourselves to build muscles in unfamiliar areas, and to stretch genre to suit our tastes, ie: if you hate to draw, you may have to draw a little, but we will find a means of working visually that you feel great about (collage, found images, photos).

Each student will leave the course armed with experiments and exercises to generate work, a knowledge base of various kinds of writing and visual art in book form, and will have made a booklet of their own—note: a “book,” for our purposes, can mean a website, a portfolio, a map, a box of stories and objects. The goal is to challenge ourselves, in the best way, to think about self-expression as a constantly-morphing animal.

Upon completing this course, students will have
• a deepened knowledge of cross-genre art forms;
• gained familiarity with poetic and creative nonfiction written forms (including memoir, essay, and online/hypertext);
• challenged themselves to work in new formats;
• worked more deeply in their area(s) of interest, and expanded their interests and knowledge base;
• received personal support and feedback;
• created a finished collection, plus shorter creative pieces;
• collected tools to jumpstart their creative processes (prompts, journaling formats) for when they feel stuck;
• learned strategies and situations that inspire them in their individual work habits.

Prerequisites: The only prerequisites for this course are an enthusiasm for exploring new art forms, and the desire to express oneself creatively, as well as an open and porous mind!

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEEL1001
  • Length: 1 week

Program Information

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Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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