Beyond the Book: Text, Image, and Experiments in the In-between

Course Description

While this course is primarily a generative one—we will make creative work, every day—we’ll get inspiration by looking at various examples of creative pieces incorporating word and image, such as graphic novels, illustrated essays, tumblr accounts, children’s books, zines (the John Hay special collections has a great zine collection!), and artist books. We’ll get out into the world, as well, taking walks, small field trips to nearby places like the RISD Nature Lab, and readings/art shows/other on-campus events. We will gather material from what’s around us, and will also conduct self-experiments to work on new ways of making writing and art.

Assignments will be given primarily in the form of short readings with creative responses, ultimately leading to the creation of a personal “essay” (whatever that might look like!) that incorporates the written and visual. There is no prerequisite for confidence as a writer and artist: the goal is to work with our strengths, challenge ourselves to build muscles in unfamiliar areas, and to stretch genre to suit our tastes, ie: if you hate to draw, you may have to draw a little, but we will find a means of working visually that you feel great about (collage, found images, photos).

Upon completing this course, you will have

• a deepened knowledge of cross-genre art forms;
• gained familiarity with poetic and creative nonfiction written forms (including memoir, essay, and online/hypertext);
• challenged themselves to work in new formats;
• worked more deeply in their area(s) of interest, and expanded their interests and knowledge base;
• received personal support and feedback;
• created a finished collection, plus shorter creative pieces;
• collected tools to jumpstart their creative processes (prompts, journaling formats) for when they feel stuck;
• learned strategies and situations that inspire them in their individual work habits.

You will leave the course armed with experiments and exercises to generate work, a knowledge base of various kinds of writing and visual art in book form, and will have made a booklet of their own—note: a “book,” for our purposes, can mean a website, a portfolio, a map, a box of stories and objects. The goal is to challenge ourselves, in the best way, to think about self-expression as a constantly-morphing animal.


The only prerequisites for this course are an enthusiasm for exploring new art forms, and the desire to express oneself creatively, as well as an open and porous mind!


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: July 25, 2022 - July 29, 2022
Duration: 1 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 8:30A-11:20A
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Molly Schaeffer
Course Number: 10421