On Thursday, Oct. 31, Ford Fellow Piers Gelly ’13 hosted the second workshop in the Publishing Workshop Series, which aims to familiarize students with the basics of layout, typography, and printing. During the first workshop of the new series, held on Oct. 17 in the Center for the Arts (CFA) lab, Gelly gave a brief introduction to Adobe InDesign, a standard layout software, and presented his audience with a short handout on formatting and font.
“The goal is to have students come away with new skills that they can use to publish their own work,” Gelly said. “Also, [to show] how to create a document that is handsome in appearance and fun to read. I think that’s just a skill that makes things subtly better.”
Gelly, along with Savannah Whiting ’13, is one of two Ford Fellows in the Writing Program at the University. Students in their senior year can apply to spend an additional year on campus as a Ford Fellow, assisting with the administration of the Writing Program and the Writing Workshop, which trains students to act as tutors for their peers free of charge.
The Ford Fellows play a key role in the development of University-wide writing programs, particularly by creating new events, services, and online offerings, but they are also encouraged to conduct their own research. They receive a stipend and health insurance and are granted ongoing student status, allowing them to continue taking classes at the University. This year, they are joined by the Kim-Frank Fellow, previously known as the Shapiro/Russell House Fellow, who works jointly with the Writing Program and the English Department to organize music and literary events.
Next week, Gelly will continue the Publishing Workshop series with a field trip to a local publishing house. Later in November, he plans to conclude the series with a screening of a documentary about typography accompanied by a panel of students studying graphic design.
Gelly is a veteran of graphic design, having done layout for The Argus as an undergraduate and leading Stethoscope Press during his senior year. He expressed the hope that the series will provide students with access to layout training that they might otherwise find out of their reach.
“There are people who come in and know layout, and there are people who learn from doing layout at The Argus, but [for] most people, short of taking the intensive graphic design class that the Studio Art department offers…there isn’t really anything like [this],” Gelly said. “I thought that as long as we were offering a bunch of new workshops for freshmen who were in First Year Seminar courses…I’d throw in this one because it would be fun to teach.”
Director of Writing Programs Anne Greene seconded Gelly’s rationale.
“Writing Programs with Andrew Curran, [Dean of the Arts and Humanities and Director of Curricular Initiative Academic Affairs], who’s developing the Freshman Year Seminars [FYS], decided that not only would we provide writing tutors to support the FYS courses, but that there would be a series of interesting workshops to support freshmen who had various kinds of projects in mind,” Greene said.
Not every project, Greene noted, must be strictly academic.
“Some of the workshops are focused on something very pragmatic, like editing your academic paper, but Piers was quite right in thinking some of the workshops should be non-academic in focus,” she said. “He’s developed this series of Publishing Workshops for undergraduates who want to start periodicals.”
Amy Mattox ’17, a Writing Hall resident whose poems will be published by Stethoscope Press this fall, attended the first workshop.
“I definitely intend to attend future workshops,” Mattox said. “I feel like they will get more and more helpful and more and more informative as they go on, and [Gelly] definitely is very competent and knows what he’s talking about.”
Throughout the series of workshops, Gelly said he aims to send the same message: font and formatting do matter.
“It always bothers me when I read somebody’s paper and the little numbers at the bottom, the footer, are in a different font than the body font, and they haven’t changed it,” Gelly said. “It probably doesn’t bother most people, but it’s the little things that I think demonstrate that you have a full command over the words that you’re using.”
Gelly is adamant that students be aware that formatting and typography can enhance their work.
“In the same way that we can’t describe the world around us without resorting to words, which are these symbols we invest with meaning and use to talk about things, you can’t really use words on the printed page without making design choices, whether they’re active or passive,” he said.
Gelly is also coordinating the 48 Hour Magazine Project, which is scheduled for mid-November. He hopes that this will allow attendees of the Publishing Workshop Series to make use of their newfound skills. As for other writing-related programming, Gelly and the other Fellows hope to hear feedback directly from the University community.
“If people want to do, or would like us to do things for them in this vein, we are here to do them,” Gelly said. “We are a body that exists to make students’ experiences on campus more enlightening and more interesting.”