MFA Curriculum Areas

STUDIO PRACTICE: The heart of the UICB’s MFA program, studio book art courses offer sequenced training in papermaking, letterpress printing, bookbinding, digital bookwork, artist books, and lettering arts. In foundational studio courses students engage in projects designed to train them in essential practices, techniques, and critical languages of the studio area. In intermediate courses, students further hone their skills in tandem with self-directed work of greater scope and scale. In advanced courses students conceive and produce independent projects, with the majority of class time spent in discussion of readings or critique of works in progress. With a mix of deep study and active exchange, the studio courses ground students in the creative practices, critical dialogue, and traditional precedents essential to art-making and skilled craftsmanship.

SCHOLARLY INQUIRY: Humanities courses afford extensive reading of primary texts and secondary sources and opportunities for applied scholarly writing. The courses provide broad contexts for understanding word and image in the various media of books, often through a focus on specific historical periods (such as the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, or the digital age) and historical agents (such as scribes, readers, publishers, or the avant-garde). Typical products for such courses are essays that contribute to a scholarly conversation, which involve research or criticism and which may evolve from stepped writing assignments. These courses foster new ideas about creativity, learning, and knowledge-generation. Such courses strengthen skills in communication and self-presentation and help students join a public dialogue about the role of books in society.
 
MATERIAL ANALYSIS: Courses in material book studies emphasize the systematic analysis and description of physical books using library collections as a focus in the classroom. They provide skills in the close examination and documentation of the methods and materials of construction of books from the manuscript era through the present. This training allows MFA students to enhance and refine their creative work and to write accurately when describing books, and it allows students in the humanities or the library professions to develop specialized analytical skills.  Based on the informed item descriptions covered in these courses, related in-class topics may include collection strategies or new user-friendly methods of providing digital access to collections. Typical semester accomplishments from Material Analysis courses are short essays, descriptive bibliographies, research reports, class presentations, or physical exemplars.