The Medieval Rôle in the Contemporary Artist Book

Professor Kitty Maryatt

Because Denison Library and Honnold Library hold a remarkable collection of medieval manuscripts and incunables, finely printed books, and artist books, we can trace medieval attributes persisting in contemporary artist books. The selections for the exhibition of such books will be made by the students in the Core III course, “The Medieval Rôle in the Contemporary Artist Book.” The contemporary artist book utilizes structures and textual conventions based on medieval prototypes, but experiments with new ways of presenting contemporary issues. The medieval book established the canon for Humanist letterforms which led directly to modern Roman typefaces; the medieval layout of the page is the precursor of the modern grid system; authoritative texts were extensively dissected by use of glossing, highlighting the issues of the day. Conventional attitudes about the role and depictions of women in the medieval period will be examined. Particular attention will be paid to how contemporary artist books address and question these attitudes and what forms such books might utilize to make their point. The exhibit will be designed and installed by Professor Maryatt’s students. A catalog written and produced by the students will contain essays not only examining persistent medieval attributes but will critique the books, supported by their experiences in discussing the issues of the day in the Core Curriculum. A DVD showcasing the books in the exhibition will also be produced by the students. By the end of the semester, the students will create their own artist book, enriched by the knowledge they have gained over the semester. The opening reception for the exhibition will be coordinated with the Frederic W. Goudy Lecture sponsored by the Scripps College Press.