Scrapbooks as Literary Documents

The scrapbook has a well-established place within the history of the book that spans from early modern commonplace books to the digital layouts of today. These often overlooked textual objects possess a great deal of pedagogic potential for learning about the richness of book history and cultures of print and script. The scrapbooks left to us in the archives of literary figures can offer unique insights into their authorship, worldview, and personal experiences.

With that in mind, I devised an assignment that allowed students to use scrapbooking practice as a conduit for intellectual exploration. I featured the assignment in a graduate seminar titled “Scrapbooks as Literary Documents.” In essence, students were tasked with collectively creating a course scrapbook in both digital and paper formats. Each of their scrapbook pages constituted a visual representation of their final essays. Paper scrapbooks were further augmented with digital content using augmented reality technology. I found integrating crafting as a compositional modality to be a form of feminist praxis accessible to students of all genders. In addition, the multimodal characteristics of the medium worked to break down persistent and, to a certain extent, artificial dichotomies that separate script from printing and print from digital communication.

Jesse Erickson, University of Delaware

The syllabus (and assignments) may be viewed below or downloaded here.