As a fledgling English instructor, I immediately began thinking of how I might adapt the ideas of Lynda Barry’s Syllabus, those of repetition and the construction of groups of images. How can Barry’s ideas be be adapted for an English class, for the creation-spurring, understanding of text’s constant presence in our world? This has been on my mind for quite some time now.
Here I’ll present a loose idea for a composition notebook for strictly textual items and the subsequent writing about these found instances of text in our daily lives. Students will be urged to choose from texts they know well, so well in fact they’ve probably overlooked their very existences, as well as favorite instances where text itself is used as a design element–logos and trademarks, for instance. Some texts will be replicated and others added to the notebook permanently. One objective of having students build a book like Barry’s is the physical act of seeking the text and the conscious choice to engage with the words and the writing, as well as the juxtaposition of the imagery of their fonts and the hidden power of the word-as-image.
This idea is still under construction, and I am still working toward activities based around text in our environment, and the commentary or meta-commentary of the journal writing. Now the list consists of texts, tweets, facebook posts, advertisement text, packaging, instructional texts and owner’s manuals, descriptions of youtube videos and google site descriptions, favorite Bible verses photocopied, song lyrics, the list literally grows larger the more one simply looks at his or her environment.
Having students interact with texts that have, in one form or another, been produced by human beings, may better show those who have never given any thought to what exactly writing is, cause to reflect.