Artists' Books Assignment

Alterations and Adjustments by Julie Shaw Lutts


Students examine artists’ books, looking at how the books make meaning through text, image, and composition. Students then select a book and write a analysis of how the book makes an artistic statement.

Learning Outcomes

After completing this assignment, students will be able to

  • conduct archival research
  • read library catalogue and finding aid information
  • practice appropriate care and handling of archival materials
  • develop an analytical argument for multimodal texts

Preparation for Session

In order to make the most of your time during your Rose Library Session, please be sure to prepare your students in advance.

  • Instructor should provide a clear goal of what students should accomplish during rotations
  • Prior to the session, students should understand what they are looking for while examining the materials
  • Students should have a clear sense of what they need to know about an object to complete the assignment successfully


Here’s what you can expect during your class session

  • Introduction to the Rose Library (if this is the first class visit)
  • Introduction to the materials in use
  • Care and handling instructions
  • Speed dating session format

Final Products

For this assignment, students will write an analytical essay of 4-5 pages in length.

Recommended Collections

This assignment uses the Rose Library’s artists’ books collection, from which you can see some examples here. The collection has artists books focused on a variety of topics and can fit with many course themes. Relevant collections will vary with course topics. Please consult with Rose Library staff to determine how our materials can best serve your course goals. Below are some (non-exhaustive) groupings of topics the books address.

Ellen Knudson, Wild Girls Redux: an Operators Manual
Julie Shaw Lutts, Alterations and Adjustments
Robbin Ami Silverberg, The Four C's : a Textile Swatchbook
Maria G. Pisano, Viva Voce
Ellen Knudson, American Breeding Standards
Alicia Bailey, Cosmeceutical Collection
Maureen Cummins, Anatomy of Insanity
Fiona Dempster, A Subversive Stitch
Maryann Riker, Domestic Partners

Nature, Animals, and Environment
Elsi Vassdal Ellis, Aithmata = Postulates : Nature : Humans in the Anthropocene Epoch
Andi Thrams, Field Studies No. 15, Lupinus albicaulis, or Without Apology
Ursula Le Guin, Direction of the Road
Sarah Press, Evolve = Unroll
Ellen Knudson, American Breeding Standards
Elizabeth Sanford, Backyard Food Chain
Alicia Bailey, Extinct/Extant
Lise Melhorn-Boe, What's for Dinner?
Elsi Vassdal Ellis, There Goes the Neighborhood
Brian Dettmer, We Kill One

Violence and Trauma
François Deschamps, Drone/ 1, 2, 3
Ann Tyler, Billy Rabbit: an American Adaptation
Robbin Ami Silverberg, Detritus
Damara Kaminecki & Jeremy Schmall, The Slapdown
Ann Tyler, The Unmaking and the Making of the World
Amos Kennedy, Burnt Church

Ann Tyler, Billy Rabbit: an American Adaptation
Ann Tyler, The Unmaking and the Making of the World
Ann Tyler, Souvenirs
Amos Kennedy, Burnt Church

Health and Medicine
Alicia Bailey, Cosmeceutical Collection
Lise Melhorn-Boe, What's for Dinner?
Maureen Cummins, Anatomy of Insanity

Ellen Knudson & Leah Lintner Eisenbeis, A Strawberry in the Snow
Jeanne Germani, Tuckamore
Mar Goman, Poems of Dylan Thomas
Peter & Donna Thomas, The Alder
Carolee Campbell, The Persephones
Jen Bervin, The Dickinson Composites


To cite this page:

Elkins, Amy. "Visual and Material Analysis Essay," Rose Library Teaching with Archives Portal, [date of access],

Please cite this portal and give credit to the creator when using this assignment.