Application for Degree: Complete through your myBama portal (must be submitted at the beginning of the semester in which you expect to graduate)
Windgate Fellowship Application (2nd and 3rd year students)
Application for thesis exhibition at Hoole Special Collections
The program leading to the M.F.A. in the Book Arts degree is a 60-credit hour course of study comprising four basic areas: printing/publishing, bookbinding, papermaking, and the history of the book. These areas do not work in isolation. Connections between these areas are made as often as possible. Our emphasis is on the book as an integrated unit. We are interested in developing craft skills based on historical principles and techniques, and the artistic expression that follows. The M.F.A in the Book Arts Program develops book artists who have well-honed technical knowledge of the various facets of contemporary bookmaking, and who have an understanding of the historical evolution of the book including its materiality, and the role of the book in society. Courses explore the reconciliation of modern sensibilities with historic craft.
We accept up to eight new students each year. Our students are highly motivated, and come from various undergraduate backgrounds and work experiences. We have four graduate assistantships available yearly, on a competitive basis. Applicants are required to submit either the general portion of the Graduate Record Examination or the Miller Analogies Test in support of the application for admission. Prospective students should submit a portfolio of their work (in their area of experience), and if at all possible be interviewed by the book arts faculty. For detailed information about the application process please see The University of Alabama’s Graduate School.
Candidates for the M.F.A. degree in the book arts must earn a minimum of 60 semester hours of credit, including at least 6 hours in the history of the book and 3 hours in an historical/theoretical, non-studio course appropriate to the goals of the individual student; at least 36 hours in the book arts studio; and 15 hours of electives within or outside the Book Arts Program. All course work must be completed with a grade average of “B” or better. All students enter the program in the fall and must spend four semesters in residence.
All M.F.A. students must complete, as part of the 60 credit hours, the following required courses:
BA 520 Printing I. Elements of Printing (3 hours)
BA 521 Printing II. Printing and Typography (3 hours)
BA 530. Binding I. Elements of Binding (3 hours)
BA 531 Binding II. An Exploration of the Paper and Cloth Bound Book (3 hours)
BA 541 Hand Papermaking (3 hours)
CIS 655 History of the Book: Book as Artifact (3 hours)
CIS 654 History of the Book: Print Culture and Society (3 hours)
BA 592 Graduate Symposium (3 hours)
BA 599 Creative Project Production, Thesis and Exhibition (9-12 hours)
Those students with a concentration in Printing/Publishing must also complete:
BA 522 Printing III. Printing and Publishing (6 hours)
BA 523 Printing IV. Printing and Publishing (6 hours)
Those students with a concentration in Bookbinding must also complete:
BA 532 Binding III. Leather Binding (6 hours)
BA 533 Binding IV. Binding Exploration (6 hours)
Those students with a concentration in the whole book must also complete a minimum of 12 credit hours of advanced course work in printing/publishing and binding. The configurations of advanced courses will be determined through discussion with the Book Arts Faculty.
BA 520. Printing I. Elements of Printing: 3 hours.
Craft skills used in fine letterpress printing are introduced in a studio environment. Through a number of printing/publishing experiments and projects, students gain an understanding of the nature and interaction of printing types with inks and papers; learn fundamental terminology; and gain familiarity with the equipment. The emphasis is on setting type, letterpress printing, and basic typographic design. Miller
BA 521. Printing II. Printing and Typography: 3 hours.
Prerequisite: BA 520
Explores contemporary attitudes and innovations in fine printing and fine press publishing through individual printing/publishing projects, as well as a collaborative project. The focus is on typographic design, editorial decision-making, color and image integration, and press work. Miller
BA 522. Printing III. Parallel Editions and Printing: 3 or 6* hours. Prerequisite: BA 521.
Students initiate and produce an edition of a relatively extensive book and/or participate in production of a Parallel Editions volume. Emphasis is on production, with manuscript selection and editing being critical aspects. Photopolymer platemaking processes are introduced in a desktop publishing environment adapted to historic tools and mediums. Such subjects as marketing and distribution of limited edition books are covered. Miller.
BA 523. Printing IV. Printing and Publishing: 3 or 6* hours.
Prerequisite: BA 522.
Refinement of typographical sensibility coupled with advanced book production experience, culminating in a limited edition handmade volume. Direct experience with bookbinders, artists, illustrators, book distributors, and myriad post-production considerations for the fine press printer/publisher. Miller
*required for those students with a concentration in printing/publishing
BA 530. Binding I. Elements of Binding: 3 hours.
Drawing upon both the historic and contemporary western bookbinding tradition, this course is an initiation into fundamental binding forms, techniques, materials, and design. A series of cloth and paper bindings will be designed and made. While design and innovation will be stressed, the primary focus of the course will be upon learning technical skills. Embree
BA 531. Binding II. An Exploration of the Paper and Cloth Bound Book: 3 hours.
Prerequisite: BA 530.
Students will continue to hone their fundamental binding skills and acquire new ones while also experimenting with the possibilities that the paper and cloth case binding form offers, both one-of-a-kind and as multiples. The examination and use of non-traditional materials and of innovative binding design is encouraged. Embree
BA 532. Binding III. Leather Binding: 3 or 6* hours.
Prerequisite: BA 531.
A concentrated study of the use of leather as a binding cover material. Various binding styles and structures appropriate to leather treatment are studied. Familiarity with the preparation and application of leather in bookbinding is achieved through a series of assigned projects culminating in a final project. Though not the primary focus of the course, binding design and innovation will be studied and explored. Embree
BA 533. Binding IV. Binding Exploration: 3 or 6* hours.
Prerequisite: BA 532.
An exploration of bound books as expressive forms. Students will further refine their leather working and binding skills while developing their own binding styles. Emphasis will be placed upon personal binding interpretation of printed texts using traditional and non-traditional techniques and materials. Embree
*required for those students with a concentration in bookbinding.
BA 534. Boxmaking: 3 hours.
Prerequisite: BA 530.
Traditional and experimental forms of boxes and other protective enclosures for books. The use of paper, cloth, and leather as well as other non-traditional materials will be explored. Embree
BA 541. Hand Papermaking: 3 hours.
Provides hands-on experience in the fundamentals of making traditional western style handmade papers using a variety of fibers. The objective is to produce reference samples of various kinds of sheets, as well as edition sheets of papers for book or art-making purposes. Miller
History of the Book
CIS 655. History of the Book: Book as Artifact: 3 hours.
Examines the book as a physical artifact, as the material embodiment of text. Topics include the transitions between hand production and mechanical production, methods of bookmaking, printers and publishers, the alphabetic code, paratext, letter forms and typography, paper, page formats and layouts, illustrations, bindings, and other semiotic systems and bibliographical signifiers, as well as the purpose of the book with special emphasis on the relationships between meaning and physical form and the complex conventions of the book. Weddle
CIS 654. History of the Book: Print Culture and Society: 3 hours.
Examines the book as a cultural artifact and explores the impact of print culture on communications and systems of authority in Europe and the United States. Topics include orality and literacy, the impact of printing, reading, authorship, control and censorship, copyright, markets and distribution, and the future of books in a digital age. Weddle LS 659. Special Topics in the History of the Book: 3 hours.
Studies in specialized topics in the history of the book.
BA 592. Graduate Symposium: 3 hours.
Prequisite: Fourth semester standing.
Discusses professional standards, professional presentation and portfolio building, creative project research, exhibition design, management of a small business, marketing, and other topics. Six meetings during the course of the semester with the Book Arts Faculty and guest lecturers.
BA 593. Workshops in the Book Arts: 1-12 hours.
Workshops covering all subjects in the book arts, held both on and off campus.
BA 594. Practicum in Teaching in the Book Arts: 3 or 6 hours. Prerequisite: Second-year standing
Practical experience teaching introductory courses in printing, binding, and other appropriate book arts.
BA 595. Independent Project: 1-6 hours.
Provides an opportunity for the student to pursue an independent project in the book arts.
BA 596. Directed Research in the Book Arts: 1-6 hours.
Provides an opportunity for an intensive investigation of both historical and technical studies of a book arts craft.
BA 597. Internship: 1-6 hours.
Prerequisites: Second-year standing and permission of the faculty. A direct learning experience in a studio of a professional book artist.
BA 599. Creative Project Production, Thesis and Exhibition: 9-12 hours.
The capping experience of the MFA in the Book Arts Program is the Creative Project, Thesis, and Exhibition. Working with a faculty advisor, and in formal meetings with the Book Arts Faculty, the candidate develops a project whose major purposes are to demonstrate a deep understanding of the craft and the aesthetic, historical, and critical contexts of the book, to establish technical expertise and to work independently. The thesis paper provides the student a formal means in which to articulate their work as well as the scope and merits of the creative project. A public exhibition provides the student with an opportunity to showcase both artistic and technical skills and contextualize the body of work produced during the course of the program. A public defense with a slide presentation is also required. Work on the Creative Project commences and comes to a guided conclusion during this course.