Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor
By Lynda Barry
Syllabus is a wonderful mishmash of syllabi pages and illustrations and creative interpretations of everything pertaining to Lynda Barry’s creative teaching practice.
Barry is a “cartoonist, writer, and assistant professor of interdisciplinary creativity”. As she describes it, this is a “book of notes, drawings, and syllabi I kept during my first three years of teaching…”
Her style explores intersections of words, images, ideas, and creativity, in fascinating ways. She uses the notebook as “both a navigation and expedition device…a place to practice a physical activity…with a certain state of mind”, which really comes through in the diversity and visually overflowing pages here.
The contents of the book include: journal entries, lists of “critical friends and influences” (6-7), class rules, sketches, thoughts and insights, specific lessons (e.g. 16-17), creative exercises, class posters (e.g. 37), class applications (e.g. 39), list of childhood influences (44-45), letters to students (51), homework (67), questions (80), comics (98-99) and plenty more.
I’m interested less in the specific things she teaches, and more in the process, methods, and pedagogical *orientation* she demonstrates as a teacher — foregrounding sharing and creativity and collaborative exploration. There’s an incredible richness in this material; Barry seems so open to sharing the interior aspects of creativity with her students — a very warm, fun, and engaging way to teach and structure classes!