NaCreSoMo #4: AcaDEEEEEmia

There's no reason for the title of this post to include so many capitalized Es, unless that purpose is to convince you, gentle readers, that I am not that much of an academic.

I would not argue with that statement. I am not much of an academic. The chief delight in my life is not spending hours and hours crawling through library stacks (virtual or real), researching the effects of second wave feminism on female characters in children's books. This is not to say, however, that I don't have some interest in the subject.

I came to graduate school to further my writing career, but increasingly I'm finding myself caught up in questions of ideology and subtext and agenda. Occasionally I actually have fun on the academic papers I'm assigned (most recently on one where I cited several female pirates in support of my point). So I think it's accurate to say that I'm a little bit of an academic. Just a little.

Which brings us to today's (technically, yesterday's) topic: conscious consideration of picture book illustration. Yesterday I spent the better portion of the day writing five short essays that dissected illustrations from five picture books. Six weeks ago I had no idea that today I'd find myself fascinated by Suzy Lee's use of gutter space in her lovely wordless picture book Wave. (Her use of gutter space, by the way, is something I've never seen duplicated, and I spent an entire paper considering the effect that invisible space has on the emotional impact of the book.)

My experience in my picture book class this semester has been much like my experience in the criticism class I took last semester: eye-opening. All these are topics I had interest in, but, having no prior experience, I literally did not have the appropriate vocabulary to discuss them intelligently. Did I care about picture books before this semester? Well, yes--in a vaguely positive way, considering I'm not a picture book writer myself (and am pretty sure I am not going to turn into one). But now I actually care. Now I have favorite illustrators, and the information I need to talk about what I find so captivating in their books. It's kind of awesome. (And with that, I will return to the actual creative stuff I will be doing today...)