Ph.D. Profile: Katherine McCanless Ruffin

Ruffin_Headshot.jpgKatherine McCanless Ruffin is a professional book artist pursuing a doctorate in library and information science. Ruffin multi-tasks with Olympian discipline as Book Arts Program Director at Wellesley College's Clapp Library; lecturer in the College of Fine Arts at Boston University; entrepreneur at Shinola Press; trustee of the American History Printing Association; board member of the Fine Press Book Association; MFA in the Book Arts advisory board member at her alma mater, the University of Alabama; and as a GSLIS doctoral student. Her letterpress printing, bookbinding, and papermaking skills are in demand at several institutions. She has taught workshops at New York City's Center for Books Arts, Penland School of Crafts, and Wells College Books Arts Summer Institute. In Summer 2013, she will join the faculty of Rare Book School at the University of Virginia.

What prompted a woman with a master's degree in fine arts to apply to the GSLIS doctoral program? Ruffin developed an "increasing scholarly hunger" and wanted to dedicate herself to "book-oriented" research. "The breadth and depth of the Simmons GSLIS doctoral curriculum, as well as the distinguished faculty, met my needs," says Ruffin. She says she hopes to "share her results with the world" about codes she developed using qualitative research methods to capture themes about what attracts students to hands-on work in the context of books arts and conservation. "The flexibility and diversity of the program is a testament to how well designed the program is," says Ruffin.

Currently, Ruffin and a Wellesley College classics professor, English professor, and the curator of Special Collections have a two-year grant from Innovations in Reaching and Scholarship Fund. The grant will support the Book Studies Initiative to encourage exploration of new ways to incorporate the art, history, and future of books into the curriculum. In June 2012, she presented "Boston: Hub of the Book Arts Universe" at the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies Symposium, which was coordinated by the Ticknor Society in Cambridge, MA. The illustrated lecture reflected on book publishing in the past 100 years and identified notable and innovative book artists working in Boston during the last decade. From August through September 2012, her work was featured in "In Depth: An Exhibition of Contemporary Letterpress" at the Art Institute of Boston.

More information about Ruffin can be found at:

Article by Jennifer Moyer, Dean's Editorial Fellow

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