Reading Questions (3/20)

On page 78, Sousanis writes, “Drawing is a way of seeing and thus, a way of knowing.” He claims this allows us to extend our thinking by “distributing it between conception and perception,” and argues this is a generative process by which we form ideas in search of greater understanding (79).

This makes me wonder – does someone need to have some proficiency/mastery in drawing to fully extend his or her thinking in this way – or for the process to be successfully generative? I think of myself (a self-professed poor drawer) during most of our stop-draws; I’m often consumed by the notion that the image I am looking to create is never truly reflected. When I write, however, I do experience this extension of thought. So, should we think of this experience from drawing as universal, or as just one of several formats to engage with this thought-extending process? Perhaps the woodworking or the quilter – folks who may self-profess proficiency in neither drawing nor writing – could also experience this? Is this more generally a notion realized through the creation of art?

Sousanis cites Masaki Suwa and Barbara Tversky’s idea that drawing is a means of developing a conversation with ones self, allowing us to tap into our visual system and see relationally. He claims that his relational viewpoint, or perception, is fundamental in meaning making. Sousanis writes, “in reuniting thinking and seeing, we expand our thinking and concept of what thinking is.” He ends the idea with stating, “to prepare good thinkers we need to cultivate good seers” (81).

This is a bit of an extension from my question above, but doesn’t Sousanis ignore a specific population of people in this claim? If I am blind I cannot reunite thinking and seeing – does that mean I cannot expand my concept of what thinking is? Do I not have the potential to be a “good thinker” (in this sense) because I cannot be a good seer? Or should we, again, look at this as just one of the potential avenues to cultivate expansive thinking?

Reading Question for 2/6

Barry struck me with her observance of point of view in the house fire pictures. She says, “There is also the matter of where the viewer is standing: point of view. All of these things show up without effort–they are already in us” (104). I continuously noticed how she incorporated point of view into all of her students’ assignments (letters, fiction, house fire sketches). Barry recognizes that she cannot necessarily instruct them to view their work in a certain way because viewpoint is innate.

If it is constructed, how does one construct their viewpoint? Is it different between drawing and writing? [GMK]

Brooke Notes (Barry)

Barry, Lynda. Syllabus: Notes from An Accidental Professor


Barry, Lynda. Syllabus: Notes from An Accidental Professor. Drawn & Quarterly, 2015, pp. 1-100.


In her collection of syllabi and teaching notes, Lynda Barry makes a bold argument for bringing drawing back to college classroom. Barry questions the reasons why adults lose their passion for drawing, and evaluates the reasons why adults feel hesitant to draw when asked. She encourages her students to enjoy the experience of drawing, and links these “childlike” actions with more complex concepts of art, science, and composition.

Through her teaching experience, Barry learns more about the relationship of art, of drawing, to the unconscious mind. She threads one particular question through the length of her book: “If the thing we call ‘the arts’ has a biological function, what is it?” (Barry 34). Barry also discusses the intersections of art and writing, and explores what it means to be a “good” writer or artist.

Barry explores the concept of art as negotiating thought, and asks her students to draw while listening to a story in order to activate the part of the unconscious mind that would otherwise go unrecognized. The composition notebook her class keeps functions as a catalogue of daily activity, and she continuously asks her students to draw or record events so that they learn to listen and take part in the otherwise mundane everyday world. Interesting things occur every day, according to Barry, and one must only open her eyes and ears to experience them. Barry’s collection of cartoon syllabi and notes provide thought-provoking questions about the nature of drawing, about art and the reasons for its existence, and questions about the nature of learning.


1) Arts, 2) Unconscious, 3) Writing, 4) Biology, 5) Mind, 6) Drawing, 7) Thought


Brunetti, Ivan. Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice. Yale University Press, 2011.

McGilchrist, Iain. The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and The Making of The Western World. Yale University Press, 2012.


“There is something common to everything we call ‘the arts.’ What is ‘it’? . . . This ancient ‘it’ is something I call ‘an image.’ By image I don’t mean a visual representation. I mean something that is more lake a ghost than a picture; somehow alive, has no fixed meaning and is contained and transported by something that is not alive- a book, a song, a painting—anything we call an ‘art form.’ Images are also contained by certain objects . . . How was it put there? Why do we have an innate ability to have a sustained and interactive relationship with an object/image well before we are able to speak? What kind of interaction is taking place?” (Barry 15)

  (Barry 49)

 (Barry 92)


How could Barry’s questions and insights apply to the workplace? How could they apply to the first-year writing classroom?

Do those who draw and doodle during class better retain the information they hear? [LW]

Bibliography 1/29

Boschee, J. (2016). Language, identity, and relations: We Gaze as visual-literacy and arts-based inquiry in teaching (Master’s thesis). Retrieved from

During my search through Google Scholar, I found Jana Boschee’s MA thesis that cites Lynda Barry’s Syllabus. In this multi-modal work, Boschee explores the role of identity within the creation of artful text. She also investigates and explains the purpose of We Gaze, a social fiction created by the author. In We Gaze, the author and her cohort investigate pedagogy from within narratives produced by those teaching during this project. [MAP]

Causey, A. (2017). Drawn to see: Using line drawing as an ethnographic method. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.

Causey’s book, which I found on Google Scholar during my search for works that cite Barry’s Syllabus, discusses the value behind utilizing drawing as a way to re-see reality. Causey provides readers with a sort of “How-to” regarding mindfully seeing and interacting with the world at large through drawing. [MAP]

Groppel-Wegener, A. (2016). Writing essays by pictures: Redrawing the textbook. Journal of Pedagogic Development, 6(3), 65-69. Retrieved from

This article, which I also found through Google Scholar, discusses revisiting textbooks to decide if textbooks need to be revamped, in general. The article explores the concept of textbooks as a genre and proposes a new approach to textbooks, one that questions the design aspects. [MAP]

Shipka, J. (2005). A multimodal task-based framework for composing. College Composition and Communication, 57(2), 277-306. Retrieved from

Shipka’s piece, which I found through Halle Library’s database, explores the idea of expanding the reaches of composition studies beyond just written texts. Shipka advocates for this inclusive approach to writing and suggests the writing process should include consideration of the influence of the tools used during the process, as well as everything within the environment surrounding the writer during the writing process. [MAP]

Tolmie, J (Ed.). (2013). Drawing from life: Memory and subjectivity in comic art. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.

While searching through the Halle Library database, I found this edited book. This book is a compilation of reviews and analyses of autobiographical comic pieces, created by various authors, which challenge the traditional notion of autobiographical. A review of Barry’s work is included in this compilation. [MAP]

Two Video Clips: Ivan Brunetti and the Cave Allegory

Early in Syllabus, Lynda Barry makes repeated reference to Ivan Brunetti’s drawing techniques and also to his book, Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice. Here’s a brief teaser–a kind of book trailer–for that book.

We didn’t have time to discuss Sontag fully enough on Monday evening. But here’s a video clip that offers a gloss-refresher on Plato’s parable of the cave (from The Republic). The parable is fraught for its over-reliance on insider-outside status, universal subjectivity, and enlightenment rationality, among other things, and yet it provides a simple model for considering the power of visual evidence (images) on epistemology.