ENG394H1S - L0101

Special Topics in Creative Writing: Language is Material - Creating Chapbooks


Tuesday 10 am - 12 pm

Thursday 10 am - 11 am


C. Battershill

E-mail: claire.battershill@utoronto.ca

Brief Description of Course

This creative writing course on chapbooks will take a project-based approach: each student will write and make their own chapbook over the course of the semester. Students will write a sequence of poems, a long poem, a short story, a series of flash fiction pieces, or sequence of experimental works and design and produce 35 copies to share with their classmates and communities. Drawing inspiration from visits to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and the Massey College Library, we will consider chapbooks and small-run pamphlets as vehicles for creative work and contextualize our own creative efforts within the rich history of small press literary production. Students in this course will be thinking about the whole of their works, designing the books intentionally to reflect the materials they’re writing about and honing their literary aesthetics as they learn how to make books. No experience in book arts or crafts is required: students will receive hands-on material education, learning from Toronto artists in the fields of papermaking, letterpress printing, and bookbinding. Through low-stakes exercises and prompts, we will also be exploring the notion of language as a material; and theorizing materiality, repetition, multiples, and graphic art as these relate to writing.

Required Reading(s)

Examples of chapbooks from JackPine Press, Frog Hollow Press, and Ugly Duckling Presse, among others, and selected theoretical writings on the relationships between book objects and creative writing.

First Three Authors/Texts

Aisha Sasha John, To Stand at the Precipice Alone and Repeat What is Whispered; Virginia Woolf, The Mark on the Wall; Anni Albers, “Material as Metaphor”

Method of Evaluation

  • Draft and prototype book (30% )
  • Project documentation and reflection on methods (20%)
  • Material and literary exercises and prompts (20%)
  • Final book and reflection (20%)
  • Participation and collaboration (10%)