Summer Reading

Welcome to Bennington and the First-Year Forum! 

On behalf of the First-Year Forum, we will send you Lynda Barry’s Making Comics in a few weeks. You should read it before arriving on campus. During Orientation and in the fall term, all new students will gather around Barry’s amazing work of art to discuss it, savor it together, and enjoy the insights that ensue from exchanging ideas. 

Guests and Bennington faculty members will talk with you about this graphic work from different academic fields’ perspectives. Barry’s introductory page (find it right below) is a compelling invitation to chat with experts in the making of graphic novels, the history of books, and languages that use characters; art historians, and philosophers who can help us understand the relationship between beauty and attraction. These are only a few examples of the many angles we may choose to look at Making Comics.

Look at the five images below and read the captions. 

summer reading
If, like me, you can’t draw and you’ve left comics behind in your last year of elementary school, this book will suck you right in with two questions.


summer reading
You may think, but I’m not coming to Bennington to study art or make comics; nor do I actually like comics. I want to make films. I want to learn how societies work. Math is my cup of tea. You are coming to Bennington, a place with very few expectations, one of which is that you explore the unfamiliar. Look at reading Making Comics as the beginning of an exploration that will lead you to study societies and geometry, and make your first documentary from a much richer perspective.

Perspective and insight are crucial to the 2022 Orientation’s theme: creating a community to which we can all belong, not despite differences but because of them. Perspective is the golden needle that pops the balloon of insight and makes you go, “Ah, ah! I see!” You may feel excited about your “Ah-ah!”; maybe moved, maybe happy. Maybe sad. One thing is certain: you now understand more and better. Deeper. Look at Lynda Barry’s back cover; isn’t that sudden insight a moment of joy there?



summer reading three
What were your revelations when you looked at the last panel? Where are your thoughts going now? What happens in the brain when we connect new ideas, change our minds, and construct knowledge? 


summer reading 4
A new perspective is also what will help you navigate imagined projects across academic fields, which we call interdisciplinarity. Your Bennington’s self-directed, interdisciplinary education needs you to look at things differently.


summer reading five
What will your story be? I hope you enjoy Making Comics. I wish you a wonderful trip along its pages, and I am looking forward to hearing what you think of it in August.

Happy Summer!

Barbara Alfano

photo of Barbara Alfano
Barbara Alfano
Director of First Year Forum