Idea Trek

Program in the Publishing Arts

This interdisciplinary program would allow students to learn about print and digital publishing, to understand its history and and imagine its future, and to approach it as both scholars and makers. Digital publishing is in its infancy, with possibilities for immersive, multimedia, 3D, VR, and AR storytelling still emerging. Despite the power and promise of the digital realm, print publishing isn't going away. The birth of the internet has not resulted in the "death of the book." Rather, books are as popular as ever and have become more beautiful in order to compete with digital forms. Books are once again becoming tactile, aesthetic objects to hold, interact with, and collect. Artist's books, scrapbooks, and 'zines are all examples of thriving print industries, whether commercial, independent, or cottage. Meanwhile digital publishing adopts and adapts the affordance of print, invoking its aesthetics and practices, while developing new ways to tell stories and communicate knowledge and information. As Sophie Seita argues in "Communities of Print in the Digital Age," small presses and magazines like Troll Thread, Gauss PDF, and Triple Canopy "incorporate print technology and its concomitant materiality, reading habits, and literariness into the digital to create printedness digitally without attachment to paper" (176). Peering into the future of publishing in her Davidson talk on the "Fourth Industrial Revolution from a Storyteller's POV," Susan Ruskin stressed the need for capacious thinking: "Arts deal with possibilities far beyond what the realist can imagine. Those who dare to embrace those possibilities must embrace the next reality." But storytellers today must also understand past realities, recognizing that the printing press was as much a disrupter as the internet, VR, and AR are today. The future of publishing requires an understanding of the affordances of both print and digital modes of production, along with knowledge of how various media have developed over time. Drawing upon courses and resources that currently exist at Davidson, a program in the publishing arts would prepare students for a wide range of careers in writing, editing, design, and publishing.



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Idea No. 55