English 269: “Bristling with Images:” Learning to Read Illustrated Texts

Course Description:

What is an illustration?  How do we read illustrated texts?  How do illustrations function differently for different genres, in different media, and in different print contexts?  What kinds of decisions must an illustrator make?  How do illustrations influence the reading process?  How do illustrations manipulate time and temporalities for both reader and text?  Henry James figured illustration as a “competitive process” that produced grafted images and “lawless incident[s]” that threatened to “elbow” out the text that should “bristle with immediate images” on its own.  Roger Fry, in contrast, likened the illustrator to an “inaudible” commentator creating images like “marginal notes” that worked in harmony with the words of the author.  In this course, we will explore a diverse array of illustrated texts from the 19th and 20th centuries—texts that bristle with images and publishing contexts that juxtapose images with words.  We will learn to read illustrated texts by Dickens, Blake, Tennyson, Carroll, Rossetti, Wilde, James, Woolf, and Barnes alongside numerous theories and histories of illustration.  We will even create illustrations as we theorize their functions and will incorporate the resources of the AMAM and the letter press studio.

English 269 Fall 2012 Course Syllabus

Sample English 269 End of Semester Idea Maps

Make Your Own Illustration and Analyze it Assignment Sheet English 269

Photos of Our Illustration Wood-Cutting Workshop in the Letter Press Studio and The Student-Created Illustrations

Images for English 269

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