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The Soybean Press is a cooperative effort of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, The School of Art + Design, and The Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign). Founded in 2007, The Soybean Press works through classes, workshops, and seminars to expand awareness and knowledge of printing and bookmaking, with particular emphasis on the teaching and promotion of letterpress printing. Central to our work are collaborative projects within the university and with artists and printers of national and international status.
We teach the traditional art of printing, while incorporating digital technology and other contemporary approaches to print-making and printing, an approach that leads to innovative new forms and formats. We work on iron hand presses, mid-century letterpresses, and with a variety of print techniques. What we print is as important as how we print. Collaborative productions with such authors as Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveller’s Wife) and W.S. Merwin (poet laureate of the U.S.) bestow an originality, vivacity and immediacy to the work of the Soybean Press. We have also partnered with the Combat Paper Initiative to print reflective work by returning veterans.
The Press participates in the Youth Literature Festival, held regularly at the University of Illinois and has recently started collaborating with the Montage Arts Journal on an annual prize for undergraduate student writers. In 2011, the Soybean Press began a collaboration with the Creative Writing Department to print broadsides for the Carr Reading Series. Events related to the press will be advertised on the Soybean Press website as well as on the Soybean Press email list.
Soybean Press is an important part of the curriculum of the Midwest Book & Manuscript Studies program at GSLIS which trains special collections librarians. It also offers public programming events for the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Curriculum connections to the School of Art + Design have been made and there are plans to develop a more formal sequence in printing and the book arts. We are taking the traditional art of printing in new directions by bringing art, design, printing, and creative writing together in synergistic ways.
- The Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- School of Information Sciences
- School of Art + Design