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Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  2,584 ratings  ·  399 reviews
"I began keeping a notebook in a serious way when I met my teacher Marilyn Frasca in 1975 at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.

She showed me ways of using these simple things — our hands, a pen, and some paper — as both a navigation and expedition device, one that could reliably carry me into my past, deeper into my present, or farther into a place I have
Paperback, 200 pages
Published October 21st 2014 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published September 23rd 2014)
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Roslynn I think it's because it decreases the pressure that sometimes comes along with An Official Sketchbook. It's just a composition notebook--with lines, e…moreI think it's because it decreases the pressure that sometimes comes along with An Official Sketchbook. It's just a composition notebook--with lines, even--so it's not that big a deal to try things and run the risk of it being ugly. Plus it's a nice, compact, portable book that won't fall apart when you've had it in a backpack for several weeks.(less)

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Dave Schaafsma
Maria Popova’s wonderful review of this wonderful book:

which I am using in my Teaching of Writing in Middle and High School English class this term. The book is actually a kind of syllabus and notes with drawings fromher and her students for you to use as artist or teacher.

The section of the course it particularly pertains to is an assignment for my students to create a visual essay on a topic of their choice using drawing and words. It could be narrative,
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is an amazing graphic treatment of information about Lynda Barry's classes, from exercises for noticing to actual syllabi. I stole a bunch of ideas for various storytelling uses (giving her credit of course) and plan to pull some in to my storytelling class in May. This is one I need to buy. ...more
Oct 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Teachers, Artists, Writers, Paper-lovers, Lunatics, Gabriel
Caution: This book may make your eyes hurt.

Ok. So. I'm fairly sure this is meant as a Learn/Teach Creativity guide-like piece.

It's Barry's notebook from her time as an art teacher.
This is a book of notes, drawings, and syllabi I kept during my first three years of teaching in the Art Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The chronology is rough and mixed up in places but all kept by hand on pages of either legal pads or in standard black and white marbled composition notebooks" (p.
Brigid ✩
Apparently I forgot to mark this book as "read" after I finished it. Oops. Well, anyway! This is a really, really great book. Very inspirational for creative people of any kind (or anyone who wants to be creative, but is afraid of not being "good enough"). It's really funny and helpful and I highly recommend it! ...more
reading is my hustle
I cannot even imagine having Lynda Barry as my instructor. I get all tingly just thinking about it.

And have you seen her tumblr ::

Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comix
Life goal: take a class from Lynda Barry. Or just have her tell me what to do with my life in general.
Sep 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
An absolute delight. I wish I could take a class with Lynda!!! She has inspired me to draw more moving forward ✍🏼✍🏼✍🏼
Jay Green
Oct 06, 2019 rated it did not like it
Not for me, I'm afraid. If you want advice on creativity as a writer, look elsewhere. The focus here is on drawing, not writing. There are some small crumbs of inspiration on looking afresh at the world, but not in descriptive terms that a professional writer might use. It's really a beginner's guide to finding creative sources.

It did, however, put me onto the work of Iain McGilchrist, whose book The Master and His Emissary is well worth a read even if you remain sceptical of his hypothesis. Fo
I decided to mark this one as read, because I think I'm actually going to keep reading it forever.

I love Lynda Barry's books, especially Picture This, and I have passively audited some of her classes via her tumblr. This book came out as I was reaching my apex of feeling antsy, uncreative, and tired (at least I hope it's the apex). I feel really renewed in my desire to create stuff, largely unconcerned with how good it turns out. I need to make more. I need to draw more. I need to use materials
Elizabeth A
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, graphix, 2015, art
Book blurb: For the past decade, Lynda has run a highly popular writing workshop for non-writers called Writing the Unthinkable - the workshop was featured in the New York Times magazine. Syllabus: Notes from an accidental professor is the first book that will make her innovative lesson plans and writing exercises available to the public for home or classroom use.

I have read the entire book, re-read portions, and implemented some of the exercises already. Chock-full of ideas and exercises, ther
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2015
I used to fill up comp books with notes from books, scenes from movies, problems I was trying to work out, ephemera, and drawings. The drawings stopped a long time ago. Now I use my phone for the writing part. After reading Barry's Syllabus, I realize I want to go back to comp books. Thanks to Barry, I realized that I miss the tactile, meditative nature of pen on paper.

Syllabus is a book about teaching art, but it's also about the ineffable process of making art. That magic time when thinking di
Apr 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I’ve owned this book for awhile now. I can’t believe it took me so long to read it. I think it’s going to change my writing and teaching life.
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lynda Barry's Syllabus was not what I expected – but that's a good thing. I bought this soon after it first came out in 2014, really focusing on how it might help me think about how to write and present a syllabus in a way that engaged students. Syllabus has the regular content of syllabi, as in this first photo, although it is somewhat idiosyncratically presented.

If this was all that Syllabus did, it would be interesting, but not worth more than a quick read. Syllabus is as much or more about t
Aug 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics, 2014, 2016
I read this first in 2014 and it blew my mind as far as developing a notebook habit. Re-reading it today for my Humanities course and lord, let Lynda Barry watch over me as I try to impart some of this wisdom to freshmen. Fingers crossed!
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book about creativity and writing and drawing, presented in Barry's signature style of illustration. I've tried some of the exercises and am continuing to work on the 4-minute daily diary. Definitely one I'll be referring to in the future! ...more
Julie Ehlers
This was great--very interesting, with some beautiful insights on creativity. But I can't help but feel that Lynda Barry seems like a total hardass as a professor. ...more
Michael S
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book, full of ideas and exercises. I will be stealing ideas for my own writing classes and personal practice.
Megan O'Hara
Sep 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
i so badly want to curl up with Lynda Barry and take a nap and then draw our dreams when we wake up (please don't tell her this!!!) this book is so lovely and it made me want to write and draw and buy a collection of Emily Dickinson poems ...more
Aaron White
Jun 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
As others have mentioned, Barry’s Syllabus is a compilation of, you guessed it, syllabi, notes, and assignments sheets. It’s this kind of messy, exploratory compilation scanned into a neat package à la the Kurt Cobain journals, or something to that effect. It’s very busy, almost schizophrenic at times. I wouldn’t call it a graphic novel by any stretch of the imagination. If its format has an official moniker, I don’t know what it is.

I didn’t really know what to make of it at first glance. The f
I admit that I'm biased and went in with an abiding admiration for Lynda Barry already in place, but hot damn. This book is brilliant. BRILLIANT. Get thee to a bookstore and buy it. You can check it out from the library, but that is only postponing the inevitable. If it wasn't 9:30 at night, I'd go out and buy a non-photo blue pencil right now. As it is, I'm starting my 4-panel daily diary tonight--I've been bummed that I haven't been able to write as much as I used to, and this method is perfec ...more
Lynda has once again knocked it out of the park. This book made me want to grab some crayons and pens and get to work immediately. In fact, true story -- I hadn't gotten halfway through the book before I ran out and bought some composition books. I used to fill them up like crazy with drawings when I was in high school, then went on to art journals. I missed my old composition book friends and have vowed to never completely turn my back on them again. Boy, have they gotten expensive and flimsy, ...more
Hannah Garden
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing

this lady is a literal holy figure come down from the spiraling clouds to kazoom the little tin pans of our hearts, buttery cascading waterfalls of salty perfect singular art busting out that you never even would have dreamed omg excuse me but she is INCREDIBLE
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed, print, 2016, pls
I heard about this book when I listened to the Creative Mom podcast. This is not normally my kind of book, but I really enjoyed it. I was also very taken with the profound insights into the creative process and nurturing creativity. The book is taken from a curriculum from one of Lynda Barry's classes and the content still has those qualities. I liked Barry's idea of a curriculum, clear standards for the class that had more to do with production than perfect drawing. My favorite thing about this ...more
Jan Priddy
Mar 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I am a long time fan of Barry's. She was born and went to high school in Seattle and attended Evergreen while a former classmate was there right at the beginning. We didn't think that college would survive, but I worked with people from Evergreen decades later and it's still going strong.

Barry herself is a very smart person and she's asking interesting questions about arting, about the work we do and what we assume and how it grows in us and always has.

I cannot quite do everything she outlines
Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
I think I would enjoy taking a class from Lynda Barry. Haven't worked through the assignments in the book. But do plan to at some date. ...more
D. H.
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
This is brilliant and inspirational-- a great source for ideas. BUT I don't necessarily think these syllabuses are the best way to organize information. It takes some training to figure out how to read it and retain the information. I wouldn't recommend reading it all quickly. It'd be better read over time, so that the ideas can find purchase. ...more
Jun 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: eng-673

I don't know that I've ever read anything as profoundly original as Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor, which I was both intrigued and confused by. Even before reading, I was bemused by the choice to fashion the novel, in both look and feel, after a composition book. The composition book serves as a central object around which virtually all of Barry's actives revolve and so is a obvious choice, but regardless, it was an inspired choice and would have encouraged me to buy this novel had

Jun 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Very cool. And not just because of the free-form "multimodal" style. I liked the relaxed and introspective approach, however, I had a pet peeve. As fascinating as this was, I felt a little uncomfortable with Barry's reliance on the cold, hard empiricism of the brain, its processes and components, when she was flirting much more with the "mind" if that makes any sense. It affected my enjoyment somewhat.
HOWEVER, this was a really cool visual novel, and if I ever get the notion, I would actually ki
Kim Savage
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book piqued my interest because I have always thought I wanted to journal but never seem to have the ambition. This is basically a teacher’s lesson plans that she has kept in a comp book. Handwriting, doodles, scraps. The entire book is covered with adorable art work and lessons on how to write and draw. I’ve taken a lot of art classes in college, but I never had a teacher this awesome. 🎨
Kali Oldacre
May 29, 2015 rated it liked it
I am honestly not even sure where to start…
Just staring at the cover of Lynda Barry’s work/notes I was overwhelmed and intimidated. I almost didn’t want to “read” it. Even in the first few pages, I found myself asking “What is this?” While I don’t even know that it can be categorized in one particular genre, I am not familiar with anything like it. This “book” catalogues the notes from a few semesters of Barry’s classes, including her syllabi, in a way that can only be described as a visual expl
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Lynda Barry is an American cartoonist and author, perhaps best known for her weekly comic strip Ernie Pook's Comeek. ...more

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