Friday, December 10, 2010

A new Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program in book arts will be offered by the University of Iowa Graduate College and the UI Center for the Book, starting in fall 2011.

This interdisciplinary program, approved today (Thursday, Dec. 9) by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, will study the art of the book, both as a hands-on practice and as a historical and cultural phenomenon. It builds on the current graduate certificate offered through the UI Center for the Book, which is part of the Graduate College.

After completing a set of core courses, students will work with a faculty advisor to specialize in an emphasis area, resulting in an MFA thesis. Emphasis areas will include papermaking, printing, digital bookwork, calligraphy, bookbinding, artist bookwork and supporting coursework in the history of the book.

UI Associate Provost and Graduate College Dean John Keller said the new three-year program addresses the UI’s 2010-2016 strategic plan emphasis of “New Frontiers in the Arts.”

“Establishing a Master of Fine Arts program in book arts is expected to help promote and advance the rebuilding of the arts campus,” Keller said. “The program is expected to parallel the pioneering work of the UI in developing graduate degrees in creative writing and studio art in the 1930s.”

The Center for the Book has longstanding ties to the School of Art and Art History, Nonfiction Writing Program, Writers' Workshop, departments of English and history (all in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) and the School of Library and Information Science (in the Graduate College). The new program will enable faculty, many of whom have joint appointments in these disciplines, to integrate their creativity and research in promoting enriched course offerings to undergraduate and graduate students in the arts and humanities.

The UI is one of only five universities in the country that offers an MFA in book arts, joining the University of Alabama, University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Columbia College in Chicago, and Mills College in Oakland, Calif.

The MFA in book arts enhances the Center for the Book’s strong national and international profile. The Center for the Book was awarded more than $750,000 in external grants – five times its annual operating budget – from 2007-2010. Independent of these grants, Tim Barrett, a founding member of the Center for the Book, was awarded a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship in 2009 for demonstrating exceptional originality and dedication to his creative pursuits.

“The Center for the Book has long been known for its faculty and facilities, but the MFA degree is a game-changer. It vaults the program ahead of its competition as an international leader in book arts education,” said Matthew Brown, director of Center for the Book. “We’ll attract students from across the country and the globe to Iowa, making the University a truly unique place for study in the arts.”