SoSe 13: North American Graphic Design: Artists, Media, Contexts
Graphic design is an area of cultural production that has often been neglected by scholars of literature, art, and media. In many ways, this is because graphic design never reveals itself at first ... read more
Graphic design is an area of cultural production that has often been neglected by scholars of literature, art, and media. In many ways, this is because graphic design never reveals itself at first sight: its most successful forms appear to us as being "just there." Yet, communication in modern societies is unthinkable without design, as Johanna Drucker and Emily McVarish hold: "Graphic artifacts always serve a purpose and contain an agenda, no matter how neutral or natural they appear to be. The graphic forms of design are expressions of the forces that shape our lives." In this course, we will explore the American history of modern graphic design from its early stages in the late 19th century up to the present. Throughout, our goal will be to critically read design as a cultural practice inseparable from the content it conveys. The course consists of several topical clusters, among them: American pioneers of typography and print design; Modernist magazine culture; postwar advertising; visual countercultures; the contemporary design novel. Beyond these individual topics, the course covers select works from the fields of media theory and visual culture studies. -----
Required reading: All participants need to buy the following two books: Marshall McLuhan, The Medium Is the Massage (London: Penguin, 2008: ISBN: 014103582X); Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (New York: Pantheon, 2006; ISBN: 0375703764). Please make sure to get these exact editions!