Picture Writing, from Photo-texts to Image-texts

Sometimes words aren’t enough. This is a course for writers who turn to images for inspiration and want to incorporate them into their work. At once a seminar and a workshop, it offers students a series of models, past and present, to focus assignments that invite them to pair visual and verbal expression in various ways, believing the two are complementary, perhaps inseparable.

The course takes its lead, and part of its title, from a term the novelist and photographer Wright Morris coined to describe the experimental books he began making in the 1940s, pairing his fiction and photography on equal terms. In his photo-texts, the words are not captions and the images are not illustrations. Photo-text has been called silent film in book form. William Blake’s illuminated books, poems he wrote, illustrated and printed himself, and today’s artists’ books and graphic novels, are related forms, image-texts where two media join hands to form another. Words and images also go hand in hand in children’s literature, collage, graffiti, language poetry, screenplays, and a host of other hybrid forms. Such hybrids often follow moments of technological innovation, and we are living through one of the greatest since Gutenberg, in the way text and images are disseminated. What are the image-texts of the digital era?

The physical aspects of image-texts, from letterpress to digital printing and basic bookbinding, will be emphasized as creative opportunities, remembering that writing and imagery are material, as well as virtual, realities. Writers of fiction and non-fiction, playwrights and poets are all welcome. No experience making images is required.

No advance application required.

Undergraduate Course #: 
MW 2.30pm-3.45pm