As a child I knew nothing about ‘staying in the lines.’ My sister had to pull me aside and explain to me why the other kid’s coloring books looked the way they did and why the lines existed and the reason why I couldn’t just color the entire page red or purple. In the spirit of everyone daring to color outside those dictatorial lines, Lynda Barry created Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor. The theory is unique, yet it moves against our natural desire for order and compartmentalization. Barry instructs her students to keep a composition notebook for what she calls “the ephemera of your daily life” (Barry 62). Barry’s idea, that of a true journal, including those things that can’t be expressed through words, makes for an animated read. It is also fertile ground for those needing to spark their imaginations to possibly motivate others. Barry finds wonder in having adults who haven’t drawn since childhood draw something. And the book deals primarily with image and text and how these two means of expression are sometimes one in the same. Her concept of the ‘written image’ allows for a new take on writing and ‘different thinking,’ another of Barry’s themes in Syllabus.

Barry’s concept of free reign and constructive creativity can be best summed up in the Ian McGilchrist quote next to a black water-colored winter tree, just budding blue against a grey backdrop. “The most fundamental difference between hemispheres lies in the type of attention they give the world” (qtd. in Barry 154). Barry’s Syllabus steps over the arbitrary lines that exist between image and text and, in doing so, allows the human communication at the heart of both to be understood in a powerful way.

Works Cited
Barry, Lynda. Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor. Drawn & Quarterly, 2015. Print.

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