Véronique Vienne | Thesis Book Project

Thesis Book Project: How Quickly They Learn

Last spring, I introduced the Thesis Book Project to my BA students at Paris College of Art (formerly Parsons Paris) and suggested they turn their theses into books. They had been struggling all year to complete their research papers, and a week before presenting they were still grappling with basic grammar and syntax, not to mention larger rhetorical issues such as structure and logic. And what about the footnotes and the bibliography? As their thesis advisor, I had been despairing.

And then it happened.


Within days, they converted their wretched prose into smart, well-designed pamphlets. My jaw dropped when they unveiled the final product. Their handouts featured articulated, graphically coherent layouts. It was as if some invisible grand design had been in the making for months and was suddenly revealed—with surprising visual sophistication.


How quickly they had learned the tricks of the trade! We had taught them well. Graphic design as legerdemain. They’d pulled a rabbit out of the dematerialized concepts of their research topics—out of those elusive tangles of ideas in their mind.  

I shuddered at the thought of reading the text of these otherwise alluring booklets because I knew that at the first misspelling the illusion would be dispelled and I would want to die (one of the students mentioned the name of the school as Paris Collage of Art).   
But fair enough: for most design students, a subject matter is just the raw material of their creativity. For them, the content is only the promise of a form.

Illustrations: spreads from the thesis books of Elin Nyberg, Price Davenport, and Yasmin Gross

Jobs | December 08