Just like I did for my recent rare book and beer pairing event, I wanted to share a few quick thoughts about the work I’ve been doing with incarcerated scholars in the hopes that it’s helpful for other rare books/museums folks who want to include prisons in their outreach iniatives. I have a million other thoughts about how amazing and challenging it is, but this post is just for quick outreach take-aways.
Why do this?
By now it’s no secret that my goal in life is to bring rare books (and museum artifacts in general) to people who want to learn from them but have never been given the opportunity (serving underserved populations, if you want to use field lingo). When I think about a population that is underserved in pretty much every possible way, I think of people who are incarcerated. Many current and former prisoners can’t vote, have limited access to educational resources in prison, and have trouble finding work or funding for an education once they are released. This is in addition to the fact that few prisons offer meaningful programming that discourages recidivism, even though such programs (like Common Good, or like this rehabilitation work) are effective and badly wanted by prisoners.
On Saturday, myself and three other students (Lee Marchalonis, Zach Stensen and Jill Kambs) had a reception to showcase our final projects for the Center for the Book. We had an amazing turnout, and I enjoyed spending time chatting both with folks from the Center and from the wider community about the Modernizing Markham project. Not surprisingly, people were most interested in the book history component (i.e. my use of historically accurate materials) and in how I played with modernizing recipes in a historic book (and with historic materials in a digital environment). I also created ductus for a calligraphic hand that I used to write the book, and that was a lot of fun to talk about. Some folks were also interested in the recipes themselves, but for the most part interest was centered around the book arts! I also took some photos of the event for those who want to take a look!
Just a quick note to share with everyone the photos from my calligraphy class. If you’re interested in seeing the work I’ve been doing this semester, I’ve compiled photos in an online portfolio. Enjoy!
Today I am finishing up the tangible portion of my Center for the Book final project. I have created a set of photos on Flickr that show the completed pamphlet book and the ductus for the calligraphy I used. I would like to invite anyone who does calligraphy or is interested in calligraphy to use the ductus I created and modify it as you see fit. I created the ductus by examining a number of Elizabethan-era documents and picking out both commonalities in how different letters were constructed and how they were fit together.
I would also like to invite all my readers to attend the UICB Final Project Reception, featuring the work of myself, Lee Marchalonis, Jill Kambs, and Zach Stensen. Musical entertainment will be provided by Peter Balestrieri, and refreshments will be served. The reception is from 4:30-6:30 PM on this Saturday (May 7, 2011) in the Times Club (upstairs at Prairie Lights bookstore.) I look forward to seeing you there, and want to thank everyone for your support and feedback while I’ve been working on this project!
>I recently had a discussion with a friend (the wonderful Amanda Langdon) about artists’ books when she was trying to describe them for a paper. Talking with her gave me the opportunity to think about how I define an artist’s book (especially since the published literature and the content of library collections gives such broad, and sometimes conflicting, definitions.)
The big thing that I think separates an artist’s book from a commercially-produced book is the interplay between form and content. Broadly defined they’re books created primarily to be ‘art’ rather than to be a book in the traditional sense. They are still functional (ie you should be able to interact with them as books) but they were not created by a publishing house with the sole purpose of showcasing an author’s content-they were created by an artist to showcase both their binding work and the interaction between content and form.
>If you remember my post on readers and new media from a couple weeks ago, I mentioned this article on an author (Jurgen Neffe) who took advantage of the e-reader format to create circular texts, or ones without a beginning or end. A quick internet search on the author revealed this article entitled “The disembodied book,” which is a pretty thorough discussion of the author’s views on the future of the book and authorship, and the future of reading. He is optimistic about the possibility of more authors being recognized and readers interacting with texts in new ways, although he frames this within the downfall of the print book. I’m one of those folks that feels like we don’t have to choose: I have a Kindle e-reader but still read paper texts as well. However, he doesn’t associate the reduction of print books to their complete elimination, which is an argument I feel has been made far too many times (insert frantic ‘print is dying! We will never read printed books again!’ comments here). Continue reading
>While some readers are aware of my other blog (and accompanying project), I have not given it the discussion on this blog that it deserves! The blog can be found at this link, and is a part of a larger project called “Modernizing Markham.” Gervase Markham was a 17th century English writer, who published books about cookery, horse care, orchards, and sport. I ran across his book, The English Housewife, in the University of Iowa’s Szathmary Collection–an awesome collection of cookbooks, manuscripts, and even kitchen appliance manuals. I wrote a paper about it for a class, but I wanted to do more. I decided to focus on Markham for my Center for the Book final project.