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Grotesque Forms

ENGL 122.401
instructor(s):

An introduction to letterpress printing and bookmaking and writing for the artist book, focusing on the history of the artist book, competence in letterpress technique, print composition and design skills, and alternative book binding. Course readings will focus on the work Johanna Drucker and Jerome Rothenberg, an overview of the history of “the grotesque” in art, and the examination of multi-media works. Fieldtrips to local artist book collections will supplement course reading, projects, and the final project. The entire class will be taught, and practiced, through the lens of “the grotesque” in art and literature. The definitions of “ugly” or “grotesque” vary widely across cultures and time periods. Much of what we understand about historical cultural norms of beauty and acceptability is learned from the way that artists have portrayed the grotesque. We will explore art as destroyer of norms, the shocking, perverse, repulsive, disgusting or fear-inducing, and evaluate how contemporary cultures enact their fascination and repulsion with their own grotesques. As a final project, each student will make their own limited-edition artist book that considers the course theme of “the grotestque” through writing, image, printing and binding.