So that first “Curriculating” post (just scroll down to see it) was kind of a mess. But it got this thing started. Let’s review the premise of this investigation, and begin to lay the groundwork for the rest.
The “Curriculating” posts are (or will be) a thought experiment, an attempt to imagine what a dedicated Book Arts curriculum, or major, would look like. At this point, I have no idea what shape the entire experiment will take, or when and where it will end. But that’s the end, and we need to begin at the beginning.
(At this point I am having trouble deciding what to write about next—do we begin with a foundational philosophy for the program, or do we jump right in with a description of the program itself, establishing its parameters and context? Although it makes a certain sense to begin by trying to establish some overarching principle(s), I think such things will have to emerge as the thing is worked out. In fact, perhaps the goal of the entire experiment is to yield such a philosophy.)
As the program is built and refined, it is important to note that this will be the imagining of an “ideal” situation—for me. (Or perhaps it is a way for me to realize my “ideal” teaching situation.) And so there will probably some big, real world problems that I will skip over or simply not see. For example: we are going to assume that money is not an issue—that the resources to make the program its ideal size and breadth are there. This is often not the case in the real world, especially now, when it seems like every department in every school is constantly under the threat of having its funding cut down or completely taken away.
Our Book Arts Department will be one department at a small school focused on the visual arts and design. A general listing of the other available programs: Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture, Ceramics, Fibers, General Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Illustration, Digital Media, and Intermedia. And since we’re talking about ideals there would also be an Art History/Criticism/Theory major as well. The overall goal of the school is to produce professional working artists, whether they are designers with full-time employment, or studio artists depending on the sales of individual pieces for their income. There would be BFA and MFA programs in all, or most, disciplines. Our focus, for now, is on the BFA program(s).
Book Arts would be its own autonomous department, connected to, but not a part of, any of the others. As such it would have its own core faculty and its own classroom/studio space (perhaps in the same building as Printmaking). The ideal number of faculty members is hard to determine at this point, but let’s say 5 or 6, with a broad range of approaches and areas of expertise in the field, both in the studio and in theory/history. There would be other faculty as well, perhaps adjunct or perhaps culled from other departments to provide more in-depth coverage of subjects not usually found in Fine Arts programs. Example: a studio class about concrete and visual poetry.
A studio class about Concrete and Visual Poetry? Can you imagine such a thing?