Elise Hochhalter - Wooden Board Binding Model

First-Year Seminar

Small discussion class taught by a faculty member; topics chosen by instructor; may include outside activities (e.g., films, lectures, performances, readings, visits to research facilities, fieldtrips).

Intro to Book Arts

Topics related to artist books, hand bookbinding, letterpress printing, papermaking, and lettering arts.

Book Design for Publishing

Introduction to the major aspects of book design, including typography, layout, standard industry software, discussion of trends in the field.

Creative Writing for the Book Arts

Synthesis of writing instruction and book arts training. Takes advantage of traditional paper-based formats to develop creative expression through the written word and through book media.

Special Project for Undergraduates

Independent study.

Book Arts Seminar: History, Practice, & Critique

An art-historical introduction to the book arts (printing, bookbinding, papermaking and paperworks, artist bookwork, lettering arts, literary fine press and fine press artist books); influences and origins, contemporary practice, and critical considerations, locating the field through the lenses of fine art, craft, and book history: weekly readings, observational analyses, hands-on exercises, and archival research in the University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections; final research, analytical, and/or critical project.

Graduate Book Arts Workshop

Development of art work and studio practice; readings and research in contemporary theory and practice; analysis of visual language; integration of creative activities and critical thinking in student's own art practice and analysis of contemporary work in book arts; group and individual critiques, studio assignments, presentations, discussions.

MFA Thesis Hours



Conceptual and methodological approaches to 2-D and 3-D paper works; students create a body of works that couple the unique properties of paper-pulp medium with personal visual ideas and clarity of intent; contemporary issues in paper pulp and the medium's relationship to larger art and craft contexts.

Papermaking I: East Asia, Nepal, and Contemporary Practice

This course follows closely the historic spread of papermaking throughout East Asia and the Himalayas, while also examining contemporary papermaking techniques associated with these regions. A significant portion of the class will be spent on Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese papermaking techniques, such as sheet formation with a removable bamboo screen and pulp pouring. Concurrent readings followed by discussions of related history and aesthetics are included. The final segment of the class consists of special projects selected by the student and approved by the instructor.

European Papermaking History and Technique

History and technique of traditional European hand papermaking and related aesthetics; students gain confidence in pursuing independent production of handmade papers or undertaking related research in their own particular areas of interest; fiber preparation, sheet forming, and drying/finishing methods; concurrent readings and discussions of related history and aesthetics; special projects selected by student with instructor approval.

Papermaking II: Contemporary Papermaking

Contemporary papermaking studio practice and conceptual considerations; focus on nontraditional techniques and cross-disciplinary use of paper fibers and handmade paper; handmade paper as a form of artistic expression.

Papermaking III: The Papermakers

In this advanced papermaking course, students will begin by honing their nagashizuki skills, while also looking at alternative, decorative modes of papermaking utilizing our Iowa-grown kozo and other local fibers. The course will then move into paper production projects that draw from a variety of global traditions and contemporary practices. Final projects will be unique to each student, with the goal of synthesizing paper production, innovation, and research. Concurrent readings and discussions will include topics such as traditional papermaking societies, present-day studio spaces, and papermaking tools.

Papermaking IV: Advanced Topics

Advanced independent projects undertaken in a classroom setting; collaborative group discussions to plan, implement, troubleshoot, and evaluate student projects.

Lettering Arts

Intro to Calligraphy Intensive

Intensive, basic broad pen calligraphy; Roman capitals, lowercase Roman and italic lettering.

History of Western Letterforms

History of Western letterforms, with focus on tools, materials, techniques; the major hands, their place in history, their influence on modern times; creation of letterforms using appropriate tools; hands-on approach with emphasis on understanding rather than mastery.

Calligraphy I: Foundational Hands

Fundamental calligraphic skills using Roman majuscule, Humanistic minuscule, Italic; basic layout and color theory incorporated into letter practice.

Calligraphy I: Blackletter Hands

Development of proficiency in various hands, from vertical Textura to floridly gothic cursive; blackletter's historical connections with other disciplines

Advanced Studies in Letter Arts

Special topics and advanced projects in calligraphy and letter arts.


Elements of Book Art

Overview of book art process and techniques for nonmajors; introduction to traditional bookbinding skills, nontraditional book structures, and content development for artist books

Bookbinding I

Hands-on introduction to materials and techniques commonly used in bookbinding.

Bookbinding II

Build on skills acquired in Bookbinding I; projects to complete six bindings based on historical and contemporary models; sewing styles, board attachments, endband types; nonadhesive and case-bound structures, varied materials and binding styles, their effects on structure, aesthetic considerations, further development of solid binding skills; historical development of particular binding practices.

Bookbinding III

Bookbinding structures based on historical and contemporary models; differences in various binding practices, how these differences affect function, why the styles developed; experience choosing appropriate structures for particular uses; emphasis on fine tuning skills and techniques required for advanced binding practices; sewn endbands, rounding and backing, sewing on varied supports, board attachments, and covering methods

Bookbinding IV: Advanced Projects

Advanced studies in bookbinding; fine binding styles, leather paring and tooling, advanced finishing techniques, refining skills; continued look at differences in regional binding practices, how these differences affect function, and why particular styles developed.

Artists' Books

Exploration of the book as a form for artistic expression; emphasis on conceptual development; relationship between content, form, and structure; how a book's structure and design can enhance and integrate part of the work's meaning.

Historical Book Structures

Historical development of book structures examined through surviving examples, construction of historical models

Boxes and Enclosures

Hands-on techniques for a variety of book enclosures; appropriateness, aesthetic issues concerning box design; Japanese wraparound case, drop-spine box, hinged and lidded boxes, slipcase; technical skill development.



Introduction to letterpress printing; metal type, relief printing, page layout, and basic typography; basic use of Vandercook Proof Press; experimentation with diverse letterpress techniques.

Elements of Letterpress

Introduction to letterpress printing for non book art majors; metal type, relief printing, page layout, and basic typography; basic use of Vandercook Proof Press; experimentation with diverse letterpress techniques.

Letterpress I

Mechanics of letterpress printing, typography, and design as applied to hand set metal type and edition printing; printing on a Vandercook proof press; introduction to photopolymer plates and methods of illustration related to edition printing, historical aspects of printing technology, typecasting, type classification; role of letterpress in modern private press and contemporary artist books.

Letterpress II

Builds on skills acquired in Letterpress I; students produce an editioned letterpress printed chapbook or artist book, a poster for a public event, and an image built from metal type; exploration of hand‐set metal, digital typesetting, printing from photopolymer plates, and pressure printing; press mechanics and operation; publication philosophies, manuscript acquisition, and topics specific to literary fine press and artist books; historical and contemporary context for literary fine press publications and artist book work.

Letterpress III: The Handprinted Book

Advanced work in fine press book design. Exploration of problems in hand-printing books--choice of manuscript, editing, design, typesetting, proofreading, printing and binding; histories of printing and of the book, emphasis on 20th- and 21st-century book design and literature. Issues of book design and production related to letterpress printing.

Letterpress III: Imagemaking on the Proof Press

Advanced work in alternative and innovative letterpress technologies as they apply to imagemaking processes for fine press printing. Topics include pressure printing, photopolymer from non-digital negatives, explorations of type-high surfaces, monoprints on the Vandercook, applying hand work to editioned prints. Students complete a series of print exercises for each process, a small printed book sketch, and a longer format editioned artist book.

Letterpress IV: Advanced Projects

Development and/or production of one substantial project; focus on acquiring or creating a text and/or other content; project development; range of print techniques available in letterpress printing; issues involved in producing editioned artist books or fine press work; opportunity to expand existing printing; classroom setting augments work sessions with in-progress critiques, readings, and visits to special collections.

Digital Bookwork

Book and Publication Design

Students plan, design, and produce a book using Adobe Creative Suite; page layout software, typography, page layout and design, book formatting, handling of image files, preparation of materials for print and other contemporary book media; history of book design, book design in contemporary publishing; visit to University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections.

Digital Design for Artists' Books

Introduction to concepts, techniques, and technologies used to design and produce artists' books with personal computers and graphic design software.

Topics in Material Analysis

Analysis and description of physical book artifacts and their component parts (parchment, paper, bookbinding) and allied specialties (the lettering arts, printing and illustration techniques); reading, writing, presentations.

Topics in Material Analysis: The Shape of the Page

Reading can appear to be a monolithic practice—words move from page to eyes to brain in an unchanging way. Yet history and now scientific evidence show us reading is a mediated practice. The page’s shape, decoration, and contents all direct a reader to approach reading in a variety of ways—small changes can draw a reader’s eyes in many directions, push a particular interpretation of a text, or even purposefully confuse a reader. This course investigates the history of the page’s shape, from antiquity to modernity using materials available in the University of Iowa Special Collections & Archives and digital exemplars from other institutions. Students will work hands-on with materials to observe and interrogate the history of reading through the material page. A variety of topics will be covered, including: formats, typefaces, paratexts, indices, material pages, digital pages, and the science of reading. Beginning in antiquity, the course will arrive at modern scientific investigations of the material and digital page to discuss what quantitative and qualitative evidence have to say about how reading practices can change based on the material qualities of the page.

Topics in Material Analysis: Research for Artists: Using Special Collections and Archives to Spark and Support Creative Work

In this course we will visit the University Special Collections & Archives, and other local Archives in order to provide us with the material and conceptual models for creating artist’s books. Our research will take the form of two main projects: examining and categorizing books for the Book Arts Database, and a final project which will culminate in a plan for / creation of an artist’s book. We will ground our work in the work of artists and thinkers such as Jordan Abel, Sue Breakell, Maureen Cummins, Susan Howe, Clare Van Vliet, and Susan Yee.

Topics in Material Analysis: Emending, Editing, and Excising the Text

In this course we will consider the ways textual creation, transmission and production complicate questions of authority, intentionality and meaning-making. We will begin our investigations into what Jonathan Walker considers the “accidents….or accidentals of the text,” those seemingly small decisions that compositors, printers, or binders make (out of will or necessity) that influence our understanding of a published text. We will then examine the world of literary editing by looking at different versions of published texts and behind-the-scenes interviews with editors and writers, and finally we will examine the contemporary practice of erasure with particular attention paid to the reworking of historical texts. Our work will culminate in each student creating and presenting an incisive and insightful project (a traditional academic paper or a book / object).

Topics in Material Analysis: Zines (and alternative publications)

This course is an in-depth consideration of zines -- and related informal, ephemeral, self-produced, and/or non-commercial print publications of the 20th and early 21st century -- as material and social objects. We will use the extensive zine collections in UI Special Collections, including science fiction, music, Latin American, and art zines.

Topics in Material Analysis: Books of Wonder: Nature, Science, and Art in the Early Modern World

In the early modern period (roughly, 1450-1800), Europeans shared knowledge about the body, human societies, nature, and the cosmos through a profusion of books. These included vividly illustrated anatomies; hand-colored herbals; travelogues and ethnographies; celestial atlases sprinkled with newly discovered stars and planets; and manuscripts recording recipes for home-made foods and medicines. In these books, people communicated new discoveries, imposed order on a teeming cosmos, and applied natural knowledge in the contexts of everyday life.  

Literature and the Book

Study of authors, genres, and formats, as affected by the cultural conditions of writing, printing, publishing, collecting, and reading. English majors may apply this course to the area and/or period requirement designated in the course description at MYUI(link is external).

The Book in the Middle Ages

Relation of text, decoration, function, creators, and audience in different genres of medieval manuscript books 400-1500 A.D.

The History of the Book in the Early Modern World

History of the book and communication in Europe 1400-1800; production, distribution, and use of texts in cultural context.

Introduction to Book Studies

Theory and practice of book studies; meanings of word and image in the book format; comparative study of other media; applied study of the codex as physical artifact. English majors may apply this course to the area and/or period requirement designated in the course description at MYUI(link is external).

Introduction to Book History

Topics related to production, distribution, and consumption of books through history and into the future.

American Print Culture

Exploration of a wide range of imagery printed and published in the United States during 19th century (1776-1900); fine art original prints, popular imagery in periodicals and illustrated books, scholarly literature, history of evolving technologies, variety of printed work; shifting reputation of printed art and its makers.

Topics in Book History

Authorship, publishing, and reading within specific historical and cultural contexts. English majors may apply this course to the area and/or period requirement designated in the course description at MYUI(link is external).

Reading Culture: History and Research in Print and Digital Media

What reading means, and what it means to read, have changed with time and place; cultural study of books and reading to evaluate strategies and resources involved in crafting historical interpretations of books and their readers; consideration of ways that reading has always been interdependent with other media, from needlework to social media; how researchers locate and interpret primary source material to study reading culture, and how cultural heritage organizations promote their holdings to researchers.

Topics in Book Studies

Topics relevant to book studies and special collections.

Book Studies Proseminar

Advanced, 1-3 credit hour course taught occasionally, focusing on specialized topics in book studies.