Wrapping Words Student Exhibition

In the spring semester of the 2023-24 academic year, students in the ‘Wrapping Words’ course that is part of the final year Spanish language module had the opportunity to work with the Cuban Handmade Book Collection in the McClay Library Special Collections.

A poster in black with images of three handmade books. Wording describes the Wrapping Books Exhibition.

This growing collection that spans the 1990s and 2000s, comprising works by Ediciones Vigía and Ediciones El Fortín is a rich source of beautifully created literature and a tangible link to the teams of people who printed, cut, pasted, and painted the repurposed materials to make unique reading experiences.

The students study the works of Vigía in their socio-historical context, focusing on the interaction of materials with the reading process and the role of the ‘engaged reader’ before enjoying an in-class experience working directly with a selection of texts in the Special Collections Reading Room.  

For their assessment, they can choose between writing an essay analysing a text from the McClay collection or opting for an applied project wherein they take what they have learned from the Vigía process, particularly the work of Rolando Estévez Jordán, and apply it to their chosen text in Spanish (poem, song, or short story) to create their own handmade book.

This exhibition highlights the end results of the applied projects and places them in conversation with the Cuban works in the McClay collection that served as inspiration.

The students whose work is displayed come from a wide range of degree pathways that contain Spanish as a core discipline – French, Portuguese, Physics, International Business, and Accounting. The impact of the experiences they have had during the Year Abroad – linguistic, cultural, political, environmental – as well as engagement with topics from Cuban culture and literature, are clearly seen at the heart of these literary designs. They showcase the use of innovation by language students and the importance of creativity as part of the learning experience.

All works are exhibited with the permission of the students involved.

Blog written by Dr Fiona Clark, Senior Lecturer, Latin American Studies, School of Arts, English and Languages.