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Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor Paperback – October 21, 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up—Structured as a handwritten composition book, this title uses prose within a graphic context to serve as a forum to teach aspiring young authors. It's written as though a creatively minded person were keeping a messy journal filled with ideas, notes, and scribbles. This book presents an inside look into Writing the Unthinkable, the cartoonist's highly popular writing workshop. Neither a graphic or prose novel, it requires readers to jump around to different boxed areas of words, which resemble those in a textbook, but attempts to do so in a hip, visual, new way. The end result is discordant and sloppy and may confuse, rather than inspire, young authors. VERDICT Those unfamiliar with comics guru Barry's previous work may find the format and style of this title extremely jarring. Stick with her What It Is (Drawn & Quarterly, 2008).—Ryan P. Donovan, Southborough Public Library, MA

Review

“In recent years, Lynda Barry – half cartoonist, half guru, and entirely irrepressible – has created her own genre, handcrafting inspirational guidebooks about how and why to be creative… Scrawled out and doodled all over the page, collaged together with snippets of schoolwork, snatches of poetry, and drawings of weird-looking monsters, Barry's notes [in Syllabus] double as dispatches from a fertile unconscious, and testify once more to the unfathomable depths of human invention.” ―Globe & Mail

“Lynda Barry has spent the last few years blazing new trails in nonfiction cartooning with a series of books dedicated to illuminating the mysteries of the creative process . . . Once you pick [Syllabus] up, it's not easy to put it back down again.” ―AV Club Best Comics of 2014

“[Syllabus is] a must-read for Barry fans and deep thinkers.” ―London Free Press

“[In Syllabus, Lynda Barry] continues her investigation of what an image is. This book is charming and readable and serves as an excellent guide for those seeking to break out of whatever writing and drawing styles they have been stuck in, allowing them to reopen their brains to the possibility of new creativity. Readers can pore over the exceptionally gorgeous graphic mixture of collage, inking, and watercolor for hours.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly; Second Printing edition (October 21, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1770461612
  • ISBN-13: 978-1770461611
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,332 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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I always love Lynda Barry, but this window into her teaching process is both hilarious and inspiring. She understands how to build a safe creative space for teaching and how to push students through barriers to their best work. This is not a how to manual for teachers. It is more like a secret ingredient that will make an already established lesson or practice suddenly come out better.
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Lynda Barry is a creative genius and a force of nature. The text is 90% hand-lettered. Some seems rather quickly scribbled, so I found parts a bit hard to read. This slowed me down, but perhaps this may have been the author's intent.
Barry takes some drawing projects, with attribution, from Ivan Brunetti's text, Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice. Found this interesting as Brunetti insists that the reader proceeds through his lessons precisely as instructed, in the order instructed. Lynda Barry has a far looser take on education, and improvises as she goes along.
I teach cartooning classes at a university and relate to Barry's frustration with digital devices in class. The hand, she points out, is the original digital device. She also pleads with her students to document the totality their life experience, not to dwell on the boring bits. I could also relate to that. Too many students do lovely drawings documenting themselves and friends watching and complaining about the banality of TV.
There are many things that will prove valuable to teachers here, like her blue pencil project, and Barry's imaginative way of taking roll. Anyone teaching cartooning, writing, or creativity in general, will find this of interest.
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Hilarious. Soulful. Practical. Kind.
When I opened Syllabus, at first I felt overwhelmed by the density of content on each page. That quickly shifted to amazement at how organized and simple the actual presentation is. Then it shifted again to enormous gratitude for someone who could compile this sort of support within the pages of a book. Such clear instruction. Presented in such a welcoming way. It's really hard to explain. Leave it to say: I have already gifted it to two of my pals and I am methodically moving through her syllabus and feeling lighter and more accepting of my scribbles everyday.
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Format: Paperback
This book is great. As a big fan of Professor Chewbacca's Tumblr blog, much of this book seems familiar. But it is excellent to see it laid out more-or-less chronologically - if I can't go back to school just so I can enroll in here class, at least I can pretend, and now I have the curriculum.
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If you are a creative of any sort, this is a fantastic and fascinating peek into the mind of an artist who is both very imaginative and very organized - not a common combination in the general population. I love Lynda Barry so I was going to read this regardless but I had no great plans for the book other than to enjoy it. Instead, it became a sort of warm-up to my daily journal exercise - a totally unexpected source of inspiration and ideas for my own oftentimes lazy creative process. It was so useful that as painful as it was, I committed to reading it very slowly in order to prolong it's use as a daily class. But that's me. This could easily be read in a few hours and then read again. It's me who made it work but it's not - it funny, and smart, and thought provoking. It's wonderful.
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This is a wonderful book for teachers in any creative field; It is also an incredible resource for visual artists who want to develop their ideas through writing or into writing. Anyone who loves Lynda Barry's 'What it is' will love this book. The material in this book is a continuation of 'What it is', but is never redundant; She continues to ask questions about how the creative brain works and includes many exercises straight from her legendary class at the University of Wisconsin. Highly recommended!
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As an instructor of basic and research writing courses at a community college, I find Lynda Barry's syllabuses to be inspiring and hilarious, as others have said! I am planning to use some of her ideas immediately, even though it is the end of the semester and we are "winding down." The exercise in paying attention to what we do, see, hear and then draw for one day (at a time) is especially tempting!
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I have never read anything by Lynda Barry and I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I never heard of her until I read a review on FaceBook by Theo Nestor on the book Demons. I absolutely love the book Syllabus. The cover and pages make you feel like you just found someone's notebook you glance though it to try to find out who it belongs to, and with each page you stop and try to take in all that is on that one page before moving on to the next. The cover and the pages are so inviting. And every page is so inspiring. I love this book. It definitely will not collect dust on my shelf! So happy to have found this author!
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