ACAD Liberal Studies Instructor Derek Beaulieu is planning to teach his students how to type.
Starting in January, every student in Beaulieu’s Creative Writing course will be required to create all of their notes, their assignments and their final projects on portable manual typewriters.
Students will be required to write in class, in coffee houses and on public transit in order to make traditional poetry and prose, but also to use the typewriters to create portraits and music — all in order to explore the artistic possibilities of these sadly neglected machines.
In order to bring these ideas to his students, Beaulieu is seeking the donation of 35 portable, manual typewriters in working condition.
“Typewriters epitomize the romance of being a writer. Every typewriter harkens back to a golden age: the clack of the keys, the ding of the carriage, the rachetting of the roller. This is an opportunity for students to engage as artists with the sensual, tactile experience of making language.”
Beaulieu has already started to gather a few typewriters, most of which he has found in the dusty corners of shops in Okotoks, Blairmore, Coleman and on the neglected shelves of jumble shops in Calgary. Well-oiled and awaiting the ingenuity of students to bring them alive again, each typewriter allows for a new chance to see these once frequent machines to ring with new projects and manuscripts.
Students will sign out the typewriters and will be required to return them at the end of semester in working order, allowing for an ongoing resource and a chance to offer the class again and again. At the end of semester student projects will be celebrated in a small gallery exhibition on campus.
Old portable typewriters — found in basements, closets and backroom storage — are perfectly ideal for this unusual course as every typewriter will allow a student to treat writing as a hands-on process — a chance to relearn how it felt to write one letter at a time.
ACAD has a rich legacy of hands-on education in craft, design and art — and this course brings all of those ideas to creative writing in one noisy, clacking classroom of student-driven exploration.
Derek Beaulieu can be reached via email