Candidates for the MFA Book Arts degree 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 12-15 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.

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All MFA students must complete, as part of the 60 credit hours, the following courses:

Core of Required Studies in MFA Book Arts Education

BA520 Printing I: Elements of Printing 3 hours

BA521 Printing II: Typographic Printing 3 hours

BA530 Bookbinding I: Elements of Bookbinding

BA531 Bookbinding II: Fundamentals of Case Bookbinding

BA541 Hand Papermaking 3 hours

CIS655 History of the Book: Book as Artifact 3 hours

CIS654 History of the Book: Print Culture and Society 3 hours

BA592 Graduate Symposium 3 hours [Creative Thesis Project Proposal Guidelines]

BA599 Creative Project Production, Thesis and Exhibition 9-12 hours

Total Core of Required Studies in Book Arts 33-36 hours

Other Studies in MFA Book Arts Education

12 units from among the following*:

BA522 Printing III: Letterpress and the Artist Book 3-6 hours

BA523 Printing IV: Printing and Publishing 3-6 hours

BA532 Bookbinding III. Intermediate Bookbinding

BA533 Bookbinding IV. Advanced Bookbinding

BA534: Boxmaking

BA593 Workshops in the Book Arts 1-6 hours

Total Other Studies in Book Arts 12 hours

Book Arts Electives

12-15 units from among the following, including 3 credit hours non-studio:

BA534: Boxmaking 3 hours

BA593 Workshops in the Book Arts 1-9 hours

BA594 Practicum in Teaching in the Book Arts 3-6 hours

BA595 Independent Project 1-6 hours

BA596 Directed Research in the Book Arts 1-6 hours 

BA597 Internship 1-6 hours

CIS653 Descriptive Bibliography 3 hours

CIS656 Electronic and Contemporary Publishing 3 hours

CIS658 American Literary Small Press 3 hours

Historical/theoretical non-studio course appropriate to individual goals 3 hours

Total Electives 12-15 units

* Students pursuing an emphasis in Printing/Publishing are required to take BA522 & BA523 for a total of 12 credit hours of advanced printing

*Students pursuing an emphasis in Bookbinding are required complete 12 credit hours of advanced binding including a minimum of 3 hours each in BA532 and BA533.

*Students pursuing an emphasis in the whole book must complete BA522, BA523, BA532 & BA533 at 3 credits each for a total of 12 credit hours of advanced binding and printing.


Letterpress Printing

BA 520. Printing I. Elements of Printing: 3 hours.
This course is devoted to the fundamentals of letterpress. Students will develop fine craft skills in a studio environment. Through hands on assignments, students will be introduced to hand setting type, press operation, and image making techniques. They will learn fundamental terminology, gain an understanding of the interaction of type, ink, and paper, and develop familiarity with the equipment. The emphasis is on fine printing and typographic design.
BA 521. Printing II. Typographic Printing: 3 hours.
Prerequisite: BA 520
Students in this course will build on their skills on the press through the production of two assignments, culminating in the design and production of a book project. This course is focused on typographic design, the intersection of text and image, and press work. Readings and discussions in this course will focus on typography and the hierarchy of information in the book format.
BA 522. Printing III. Letterpress and Artist Book: 3 or 6* hours. Prerequisite: BA 521.
This course is devoted to book production. Students in this course will produce and refine a series of mockups before embarking on the production of an ambitious book project. While these book projects can take many forms, this course will center on artist books as a creative medium. Readings, discussions, and visits to special collections will help direct the course. Individual projects will be a catalyst for the refinement of skills on the press, including the production and use of polymer plates, setting type, press operation, and maintenance.
BA 523. Printing IV. Printing and Publishing: 3 or 6* hours.
Prerequisite: BA 522.
Students in the course will design and produce an ambitious, letterpress printed book project. Students will advance their press skills in all areas as well as their skills in setting up budgets and marketing their work. A book produced in this course is a stepping stone toward a book arts career and should be produced with an eye toward exhibition and/or dissemination. Discussion and critique is foundational to this course. Class time will be spent on discussion and critique, troubleshooting project issues, and the work of creating an online presence for the marketing of books.
*required for those students with a concentration in printing/publishing


BA 530. Bookbinding I. Elements of Bookbinding.
Drawing upon both the historic and contemporary Western bookbinding traditions, this course is an initiation into fundamental binding forms, techniques, materials, and design. Through the construction of a series of cloth and paper structures, students will gain an understanding of the properties inherent to the materials and how they work in the context of bookbinding. In addition to the development of good hand skills and proper use of materials, aesthetic and design issues concerning book construction will be addressed.
BA 531. Bookbinding II. Fundamentals of Case Bookbinding.
Prerequisite: BA 530.
An introduction to the materials and techniques of case bookbinding. Students will continue to refine the fundamental binding skills acquired in BA 530, while being introduced to more advanced materials techniques. Case bookbinding and custom built enclosures will be constructed using paper, cloth, and leather. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of these skills necessary for completing both one-of-a-kind and edition work.

BA 532. Bookbinding III. Intermediate Bookbinding.
Prerequisite: BA 531.
An introduction to the materials and techniques of leather bookbinding along with the principles of conservation treatments as they relate to the processes of rebinding. Students will study the methods of production of animal skins for book making, the qualities of these skins, and their identification. Instruction in the use of leather-working tools, advanced case binding techniques, and in-board binding construction will be introduced. A strong emphasis will be placed on paper mending, forwarding techniques and leather preparation.
BA 533. Bookbinding IV. Advanced Bookbinding.
Prerequisite: BA 532.
An advanced study of bookbinding and finishing techniques. Students will refine leather-working and binding skills while exploring methods for fine and design work. Readings and discussions will focus on sound binding practices with an emphasis on the art and practice of covering in leather. An advanced final binding project will allow students to demonstrate their mastery of the materials and techniques presented in the binding I-IV course sequence.
BA 534. Boxmaking.
Prerequisite: BA 530.
An exploration of traditional and experimental forms of boxes and other protective enclosures for books. Boxes serve both aesthetic and functional purposes: they house, protect, and present their contents. Students will learn box making techniques such as measuring, fitting, covering, and casing; these will be considered also in connection with more complex components like partitioning and layering. We will discuss aesthetics in the context of overall design as well as selection of materials and structures appropriate for specific applications.


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.

Additional Courses

BA 592. Graduate Symposium: 3 hours.
Prerequisite: 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 Thesis Project: 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, the candidate develops a project that demonstrates a deep understanding of the craft and the aesthetic, historic, and critical contexts of the book; to establish technical expertise; and to work independently.