Art and the Book

MA in Art and the Book*

Study the history and theory of book culture while producing contemporary artist’s books

* The MA in Art and the Book degree program is no longer accepting new students. Students who entered this program prior to Fall 2015 will be able to complete their degree program.

Art and the Book, a two-year Master of Arts program, offers a comprehensive approach to studying the history and theory of book culture while producing contemporary artist’s books. Studying within the Art and the Book program at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University (GW) is to be immersed in the life, history and meaning of book culture, to participate in a personal and profound way in understanding its relation to art and society and to help frame its future. The program features internationally recognized faculty and visiting artists and draws on the cultural riches of collections at the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art and other Washington, D.C. resources. Interdisciplinary and collaborative in nature, the curriculum encourages exploration of the artistic potential and evolution of book form.

The MA in Art and the Book program offers an array of academic and studio courses from traditional book arts to digital and multimedia approaches—including letterpress printing, binding, papermaking, typography, digital Media, traditional printmaking and book history classes. This MA program establishes Washington, D.C., as a leading center for the study and production of artist’s books. The curriculum also includes an internship program that pairs students with artists and curators at noted Washington institutions, giving students the opportunity for professional development in specialized areas.

Admission Requirements

For detailed information regarding admissions requirements such as application deadlines and required documentation, visit the GW Program Finder.


The following curriculum is for legacy students, defined as those students who began taking classes at the Corcoran prior to the fall 2015 semester. Students enrolled beginning in fall 2015, should contact Kerry McAleer-Keeler about other program options.

Required Courses

  • CAH 6130 History of the Western Book Survey
  • CAH 6330 The 20th Century Artist Book: Tradition and Innovation
  • CBK 6010 Art and the Book Graduate Seminar I
  • CBK 6120 Binding I: Intermediate and Advanced Structures
  • CBK 6110 Letterpress I: Letterpress Basics from the 1400's to the Digital Age
  • CBK 6150 Type and the Book Form
  • CBK 6100 Layout and Design of the Book (possible prerequisite for Type and the Book Form)
  • CBK 6020 Art and the Book Studio I
  • CBK 7010 Art and the Book Studio II
  • CBK 7800 Art and the Book Graduate Pro-Thesis
  • CBK 7900 Art and the Book Graduate Thesis Forum

Sample Electives

  • CBK 6900 Art and the Book Internship
  • CBK 5220 Box Elements In Book Arts
  • CBK 7320 Binding II: Leather Bindings
  • CBK 6210 Letterpress II: Advanced Discoveries in Letterpress
  • CBK 6331 Vandercook Relief Fine Art Printing
  • CBK 7311 Pop-Up Books: Exploration of the Sculptural Book through Paper Engineering
  • CAH 6332 The Creative Space: Viewing & Reading

Department Life


Marginalia is the student-led organization for the Art and the Book graduate program. The organization is made up of a group of artists, bookmakers and scholars interested in investigating and creating handmade artists' books. The group also focuses on educating themselves and others through actively producing work and connecting with the larger bookmaking community.

The group's purpose is to keep members and the artist book community informed of the work they are creating along with the events planned throughout the academic year at GW. The Marginalia group was created by the first graduating class of the program in 2011. The student group's name can be loosely defined as "notes and comments made by readers in the margin of a book as well as marginal decoration and drawings in medieval illuminated manuscripts."

Since its original development, Marginalia's active student group has participated in the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair, Baltimore Book Festival and the Codex International Book Fair, hosted numerous guest speakers and sponsored their own graduate scholarship award. Students and alumni can join Marginalia through their website to participate in upcoming activities and get news on scholarships, artwork, shows and other opportunities.

Study Away

Students of the MA in Art and the Book program are encouraged to engage in the exceptional graduate study abroad programs provided at GW. Exemplary students in the graduate programs are selected through a rigorous academic and/or studio process and can work in such places as Ladakh, India and Jerusalem, Israel. Many Art and the Book students will choose to study away during their graduate studies in order to develop pivotal ideas in new and creative environments.

Careers and Internships

GW believes in drawing upon the abundant resources the National Capital has to offer students in regards to educational and professional development opportunities. Students in the MA in Art and the Book program can learn and benefit from practicing professionals in the field of book arts. Many students in the program choose to gain real-world experience through internships with museum institutions, non-profit art centers, or private printing presses, binderies and/or local workshops. Understanding how book and print collections are created and enhanced provides essential information to students for research and educational advancement. Our unique book arts internship and fellowship opportunities foster real-world experience, original research, professional connections, career preparation and personal growth.

Past and present internships and student fellow placements

  • The Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections
  • National Geographic, Children’s Division
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • National Gallery of Art Library
  • Smithsonian National Museum of American History
  • Artreach at thearc, Corcoran College of Art + Design
  • Chris Manson of Crooked Crow Press, Letterpress studio, Bethesda, MD
  • Distinctive Bookbinding and Leather Designs, Rockville, MD
  • Handprint Workshop International, Alexandria, VA

Art and the Book in Action

Photo of Jihae Kwon's Artwork

Jihae Kwon

MA Art and the Book, 2014

“My inspirations come from unexpected places—seemingly unimportant conversations with friends, something glanced at for a moment, a forgotten memory. A bit of shared history, a phrase or an image may trigger a chain of thoughts that lead me to the subject of my work.”

Explore more of Jihae’s work
Photo of Na'ama Zussman's Artwork

Na’ama Zussman

MA Art and the Book, 2015

“A survey of interactions between a surface and an image—an object, and a text. I am the surveyor. A book is a surface—a physical placeholder that for millennia has been an emblematic infrastructure for the formation of civilizations, religions and doctrines and is thus physically marked by them.”

See more of Na’ama’s project, A Survey of a World

Find Art and the Book Faculty

Kerry McAleer-Keeler

Kerry McAleer-Keeler

Associate Professor of Art & The Book