COMD3504 - Section HE05 - Fall 2021

Author: Prof. Matthew C. Lange (Page 1 of 2)

(No) Assignment for December 14

As we prepare for our final class session your last remaining task should be to make sure all your work for the semester is posted to OpenLab.

This means confirming that you’ve uploaded:
– Your bibliography for the final,
– Images/files of your presentation,
– Any missing assignments for the semester

Note: If you shared a link to a pre-recorded presentation, you are still responsible for posting images of the poster/powerpoint. Ideally this will be a pdf, but if you created a prezi presentation, or are having issues with file size, you can post jpeg(s) of your document.

With regard to past assignments, the Assignments page on this site should serve as a checklist. (You can click on your own name in any of your recent posts to filter your submissions, then open the Assignments page in a separate tab to cross-reference.) Please email me if you have any questions regarding any assignments.

Looking forward to our last day of presentations. Please be ready to engage with your peers’ presentations, and please let me know if you have any questions in the meantime.

Assignment 13 for December 7

It should be clear that final research projects are due on December 7th. If you have any questions concerning, expectations,  requirements, guidelines, etc. please email me:

There are 2 items to post before class on the 7th. They are:
(1) a PDF of your presentation. This should be the same document that you will use to deliver your presentation, exported from PowerPoint, InDesign, or whatever program you use to design it.
(2) your bibliography, also saved as a PDF. Remember, in addition to class readings, you must include 10 sources from library databases.

Both of these items should be uploaded as a single Post.

If you would like to pre-record your presentation, please also include a link to your recording in that post. Note: this must be submitted in addition to the PDF of your presentation.

It sounds like we’ll have some very interesting presentations in the next couple of weeks. Please be ready to start promptly at 6:00 on the 7th!

Assignment 12 for November 30

For our final reading assignment you will be responsible for reading two articles from Graphic Design Theory. More on that below.

The written portion for this week will not be a direct response to the readings. Instead, your assignment will be to post (1) “sketches” of your poster and (2) a working bibliography.

You can interpret sketches literally and/or loosely; include actual drawings, outlines of material, or brainstorms of related ideas. The bibliography can include relevant assigned readings, but it must also include at least 6 outside sources.

Back to the readings…again, you must read two articles from Graphic Design Theory, but this week you will decide which ones you would like to read. You may choose from:

Kenya Hara, Designing Design (2007):

Jessica Helfand, Dematerialization of Screen Space (2001):

Kalle Lasn, Design Anarchy (2006):

Ellen Lupton and Julia Lupton, Univers Strikes Back (2007):

Lev Manovich, Import/Export, or Design Workflow and Contemporary Aesthetics (2008): 

Dmitri Siegel, Designing Our Own Graves (2006):

Jan Van Toorn, Design and Reflexivity (1994):

Feel free to email me with any project-related questions that might come up through the week.

Assignment 11 for November 23

Our next reading will be a short essay by Steven Heller, from 2008, entitled The Underground Mainstream. Here is a PDF:

Note that our response to this text includes a minor, but important, variation from our usual format: you must include 3-4 sources accessed through library databases. (Jstor and Ebsco ebooks are both great but you should explore a few.)

Here is your prompt:
How, according to Heller, is the concept of mainstream vs. underground relevant in contemporary design? Where do the designs or the designer that you’ll be addressing for your final presentation fit into this dichotomy? What sort of underground designs influenced the work in question? In what ways has the work in question shaped the mainstream? Or how will it do so in the future? Provide full citation information for at least 3-4 sources from the library to support your response.

Part of the goal for this assignment is to make some progress on your final. We’ll check in on that progress in class on the 23rd.

Assignment 10b for November 16

The first item to complete for November 16 is your second 2-3 page paper (See Assignment 10a).

Once this is completed there are two new readings for next week. These readings are unrelated to the paper. It is recommended that you complete them after the paper. They are as follows:

Paul Rand, Good Design is Goodwill (1987):

Denise Scott Brown, Steven Izenour & Robert Venturi, Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form (1972):

While there is not a written response to these particular texts, you will be expected to discuss them in class on the 16th. Please budget your time so that you can give proper attention to these readings.

*Assignment for 10a November 11*

The second short paper is  due next class, and there will also be two short texts to read. The texts are listed as 10b. Note: you do not need to submit a response to those texts.

Paper Requirements:
The second 2-3 page paper is a response to Roland Barthes’ Rhetoric of the Image. The objective for this paper is to analyze the rhetorical elements of a recent advertisement. The ad should be from a print magazine.

The chosen advertisement must use photographic imagery, and must include text. Begin by describing the image in as much detail as possible, examining the characteristics of the pictured objects, models, environment, etc., as well as the layout, typography, interaction of forms, image style and composition of the entire ad. Try to identify all of the signs at work in the image.

Make your best attempt to articulate the meaning of the image, using Barthes’ terms. What are the linguistic messages? What are the non-coded iconic messages? What are the coded iconic messages? Identify the denotative and connotative aspects, the use of anchorage and relay, the semantic and lexical components, etc. Consider the effectiveness of the advertisers’ rhetoric, and the ideological metalanguage employed.

This response will be submitted as a 750-1000 word typewritten paper, double-spaced in 12 pt. Times New Roman. Include an image of the advertisement under consideration. All references and quotations, including image sources should be properly cited in MLA format. Upload a PDF to a new Post on OpenLab before class on the 16th.

Note: I am well aware of the versions of this essay that can be found online. Submissions that address the ads examined in those versions (i.e. the chopped up Heinz bottle, the VW porcupines) will not be accepted.

Assignment 9 for November 9

Our reading for next week is Roland Barthes’ 1977 essay, Rhetoric of the Image. Here is the PDF:

As you read, please make note of all important terms (ie. polysemy, linguistic sign, connoted, denoted, etc.), especially if their meaning is unclear.  Also make note of important points that you don’t completely follow. Record a brief list of questions you have concerning the essay. When you’ve completed the reading, drop these notes and questions into a post; this will be your submission for the week.

The second 2-3 page paper, due November 16, will be a response to this article. In this paper, you’ll critically examine a contemporary advertising image in a manner similar to Barthes’ approach. You will be expected to employ the logic and terminology that Barthes uses in this text.

You should begin to consider the advertisement that you would like to address for your essay. It should be a recent full-page print advertisement organized around a single photograph. Please bring ideas to class next week.

Assignment 8 for November 2

Our next reading is from a 1981 essay by the cultural theorist, Stuart Hall. In this article, entitled The Whites of Their Eyes, Hall examines the ways in which mass media have portrayed racist ideologies. Here is a PDF:

Your post for this reading will be a little different. Instead of writing 3-4 paragraphs, please identify and document 3-4 advertisements in recent magazines, web pages, posters, billboards, etc. where race, ethnicity, gender or cultural identity play a role in shaping a brand’s message.

Note that identity and race can be used in a seemingly positive, embracing way, or in a cynical, negative manner; or it may be difficult to tell. The most interesting ads are probably the most subtle.

Post ads that you encounter this week, after completing the reading. We’ve all seen some of the widely publicized missteps from companies such as H&M, Dove, Sony, etc. …These are all very obvious. They really don’t require critical examination and we really don’t need to see them again.

Post phone pics, scans or screenshots of your selected ads with short captions describing the image and the source from which the image was found.

Assignment 7 for October 26

Our next reading will be from the media theorist Marshall McLuhan. For this reading, you have two options. Please read one of the following:

The Introduction, Chapter 1 and Chapter 7 from McLuhan’s influential 1964 book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. This is a fairly straightforward text. Here is a PDF:


Selected paged from The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effect, co-created by McLuhan and Quentin Fiore in 1967. This is an experimental text that relies heavily on image-text interactions. Here is a PDF:

Please take a look at both, to get a sense of the material, then choose one or the other to really focus on.

Please consider the following:
McLuhan describes technology and media as “extensions of man.” How do media extend human beings, or humanity in general? What hazards might technological progress bring for individuals and society? If “the medium is the message,” what role can artists and designers play in creating new messages? How is the work of a designer subordinate to the media they use to create or distribute information? 

You also have two options for this response. You can write 3-4 paragraphs. Or you can respond in a “typophoto-graphic” manner, combining images and text.

Assignment 6 for October 19

Our next reading assignment includes 3 texts from designers who employed systematic approaches to their work. They are as follows:

Jan Tschichold, The New Typography (1928): 

Karl Gerstner, Designing Programmes (1964): 

Josef Müller-Brockmann, Grid and Design Philosophy (1981):  

The prompt for this week is an overly simple one: According to Jan Tschichold, Karl Gerstner, and Josef Müller-Brockmann, How should one design?

For this one you can answer with 3-4 paragraphs, as usual, or you can create a visual response, incorporating text with design elements. If you choose the visual response, use the visual-linguistic ideas discussed in class and the systematic approach outlined in these texts to create your design, then upload a jpeg or pdf file.

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