Online | Open-Genre | Seminar

6-Week Online Open-Genre Seminar: Illustrated Literature

In this six-week online generative seminar, we’ll look at classics of illustrated literature—across genres, from the late 19th century to today—and create our own illustrated works inspired by them.

Prior to each class, students will prepare by doing a short reading from texts such as The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Fun Home, and Good Talk, to name a few, and producing a short, illustrated work modeled on that reading. During class, Harmon will deliver a brief lecture, followed by a class discussion. Then, students will present their work for group critique. Students in this class will not receive detailed written feedback from the instructor or their classmates; everyone’s workshop will be “cold,” meaning everyone will hear and see the work up for discussion for the first time in the class meetings.

This class is open to writers and artists at all experience levels.

Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features.


- Gain a fundamental understanding of the history of illustrated literature since the late 19th century

- Explore the breadth of illustrated literature beyond the graphic novel, including: illustrated fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and memoir; and work incorporating drawings, paintings, and photographs

- Produce six of your own short, illustrated works

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Students will be expected to prepare for each class by doing a short at-home reading and a short at-home illustrated writing assignment each week. Students will receive verbal feedback from the instructor and their classmates, but there is no written feedback given in this course.


Week 1: The Kelmscott Chaucer and the personal and social functions of meaningful work

Week 2: Stein, Kalman, and the reimagined classic

Week 3: Trauma, Memory, and Austerlitz

Week 4: Fun Home and the Bechdel test

Week 5: Destabilizing imagery in Rankine’s Citizen

Week 6: Conversations with friends in Jacob’s Good Talk

Forsyth Harmon

Forsyth Harmon is the author and illustrator of the illustrated novel JUSTINE (Tin House, 2021). She is also the illustrator of GIRLHOOD by Melissa Febos and THE ART OF THE AFFAIR by Catherine Lacey, and has collaborated with writers Alexander Chee, Hermione Hoby, Sanaë Lemoine, and Leslie Jamison. Forsyth’s work has been featured in Granta, BOMB, Refinery29, and more. She received an MFA from Columbia University and currently lives in New York.


"Harmon's mix of text and image is seamless, intimate, a continuous dream."

Alexander Chee

“Forsyth Harmon is an artist who understands the holy power of longing.”

Melissa Febos

"As an instructor, Forsyth Harmon manages to be both engaging and informative, authoritative and approachable, deadly serious and very funny."

"She makes Zoom feel just as intimate and exciting as the classroom."

"She always give the best advice, and I ALWAYS follow it."