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: Printing and Typography 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]

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: Printing and Publishing 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.
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. 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 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.