Books otherwise

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 


Tutors: Pauline Barzilaï, Caroline Cutaïa/ illustrators

Project manager: Stéphane Coulaud


Read the paper version of a book first, then navigate in its digital version to understand it better: is that the norm for the new readers? With the help of multimedia graphic designer, the classes choose a book and try to present it in a multimedia version. They have to: define an interactive, multimedia approach; look for appropriate sound and pictures; define a graphic style and make a mock up.

Inventions and latest novelties
On the tutor's suggestion, the class discovered Gaston de Pawlowski, a French writer whose life straddled the 19th and 20th centuries. He wrote several satirical works. The tutor presented his books and the class chose Inventions et dernières nouveautés, which uses caricature and irony to mock the fashion for gadgets, consumer society and scientism. They read several passages presenting inventions and novelties imagined by Pawlowski: non-slip soap; the French boomerang; bathtub with a side entrance; finger-pen; anti-tears; etc.

What to do with a text?
The tutor asked Florent Ruppert, a comic book writer and one of the duo Ruppert et Mulot, to work with the class. Using extracts from Pawlowski’s book, Florent Ruppert showed the pupils how he illustrates a text. The class then did exercises using drawings to help the reader navigate in a text.

Broadening the field
The pupils then gathered documents about the author's life and times, and looked at the influence of various art movements on the book: Dadaism – through collages and typography – Surrealism, references to the absurd practised by Alphonse Allais, etc. Apart from this documentary research, the pupils spent time on the graphic design of the book, especially on ornamental capitals. At the end of the workshop, they combined the written text with the other resources; the tutor gave technical help to transfer it to a digital tablet.

The pupils spent an afternoon showing the school the finished book on a tablet. Each reader could flick through the 50 pages of texts, images, links, etc., making up the digital book inspired by Gaston de Pawlowski's work and see how the pupils had refashioned it. 



- Class (6th) Collège Françoise Dolto, Villepinte
- Class (5th) Collège Barbara, Stains