Tuesday 6:00 – 8:30 pm
Professor Matthew C. Lange
Office Hours: Tuesdays 5:00-6:00, or by appointment
ENG1121 & ARTH 3311
This course will offer an in-depth introduction to communication design theory, examining theoretical perspectives of design practice within the larger discourse of design and visual culture. Communication models, the nature of representation, the dimensions of context and semiotics will be explored through critical readings from key documents written between the early decades of the twentieth century and the present.
To successfully complete this course, you will be expected to grasp the theoretical principles underlying contemporary design according to the following criteria:
|Successful completion of this course will require students to:||Evaluation criteria:|
|Develop an historical appreciation of communication design including designers, technologies, media and processes, creative expression, challenges and effects.||Critical analyses of readings and design projects will be submitted via weekly blog posts.|
|Acquire an understanding of different forms, traditions, processes and styles of communication design in different national and international contexts.||Online and in-class discussions will offer opportunities to articulate thoughtful responses to readings and related design examples.|
|Demonstrate an ability to think critically, to distinguish between fact and opinion, and to analyse different kinds of design.||Writing assignments and class presentations will require analysis and comparison of movements, styles, concepts and important design practitioners, as well as the capacity to identify and cite primary and secondary sources.|
|Demonstrate the ability to evaluate critical and historical materials for the study of design and to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, written in clear, correct prose.||Understanding of design theory, as it applies to practice and history, should be expressed verbally in classroom discussions, and via written assignments.|
|Develop communication skills and demonstrate the ability to reflect critically on the learning process.||Knowledge of design styles, movements, and significant works, along with critical opinions of the learning process, should be articulated in reflective writing via design journals.|
Armstrong, Helen. ed., Graphic Design Theory: Readings from the Field. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2009.
This text is available as an eBook via the City Tech Library. Assigned readings will be made available as PDFs via OpenLab.
Weekly readings will serve as the central axis on which this course revolves. Completing every reading will be necessary in order to successfully complete the course. These readings will be accompanied by weekly written responses posted to our class website, two short papers, and classroom discussions. You will supplement these readings with independent research, culminating in a Research Poster Project.
Reading assignments will be posted as PDFs to our class OpenLab site on a weekly basis. Always check the OpenLab site for current readings, as they may differ from the syllabus. You are strongly encouraged to print each reading and to annotate your printout. Plan to have readings in front of you during class sessions to reference specific excerpts.
Each weekly reading post will include a set of questions or prompts intended to promote critical engagement with the assigned text. You will be expected to write 3-4 paragraphs reflecting on the text in question. Responses may be handwritten or typed on a separate page; in either case, they must be added to our OpenLab Course as a new Post. Posts must be submitted before class on the day they are due.
Twice during the semester (Week 6 and Week 11), you will be required to submit papers, 2-3 pages (750-1000 words) in length, as your weekly response. These papers will be formally structured essays concerning assigned readings and your individual research. You must submit these papers as PDF’s, typed in double-spaced 12 pt Times New Roman, with all references and quotations properly cited according to MLA guidelines. These papers will be completed in lieu of typical weekly responses.
Independent research will supplement assigned texts, and offer opportunities to apply the critical discourse from our readings to individual concerns. You should be researching additional designers and critics, examining contemporary design, and exploring scholarly articles from the library’s holdings throughout the entire semester. As the semester progresses you will be asked to submit research-in-progress along with your weekly posts.
The final three weeks of class will be conducted as Poster Sessions in which you and your peers will present independent research using visual aids. You will be expected to articulate a clearly-defined topic concerning contemporary design and theory, by way of a well-designed poster or slide deck. This endeavor should serve as an opportunity to connect one’s own design practice with professional research methodologies. In addition to completed presentations, you will be expected to submit an annotated bibliography and outline. Details will be distributed in our Week 6 class session; potential topics will be discussed in Week 8.
Weekly Responses: 35%
Response Papers: 20%
Research Presentation: 25%
Productivity and Participation: 20%
We will be using the OpenLab internet application to provide access to course materials, keep current with course developments and to communicate, collaborate and submit course assignments inside and outside the classroom. It will be necessary for you to join this Course and visit its Site on a weekly basis. The URL for this Course Site is: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/lange-comd3504-he05-fa2021
Class sessions will meet synchronously online or in-person each week at the designated time. Given the nature of this course, and the current state of the pandemic, we will plan to conduct the majority of our class sessions online. However, we will maintain an open dialogue concerning our class structure, and we will adapt as needed. In-person sessions, tentative as they may be, are noted on the Course Schedule below
The following school-wide attendance policy will remain in effect:
Attendance is taken and is important to success in this class. Students arriving after attendance is taken will be marked “late.” Two “lates” equals one absence. If a student’s class absences or equivalents are excessive, the instructor will alert the student that he or she may be in danger of not meeting the course objectives and earning a grade of “F”.
We must acknowledge that the hybrid learning model, offered in the context of rapidly shifting public health situations, carries a certain level of uncertainty. We will make every effort to accommodate the needs and concerns of all students, without compromising the content or quality of the course. We will strive to make the best use of all available to resources to keep everyone connected.
Whenever possible please email me in advance if you will be unable to attend a class session. Should any serious issues arise, please make every reasonable effort to keep up with weekly deadlines. It is your responsibility to obtain class notes for missed sessions from your peers. You will still be expected, within reason, to submit assignments before any missed sessions. Absence from class does not excuse you from submitting homework assignments on time.
Discussions of assigned readings will play a critical role in this course. Our conversations should not only provide a better understanding of these readings, but should also make class sessions more engaging for everyone.
We will face the challenges of the online and/or socially distanced classroom head-on, and we will work to design creative solutions for productive class sessions. Part of this effort will come from utilizing built-in Zoom functionality such as group chats, break-out rooms and virtual backgrounds. Part will come from experimenting with the spaces and technology available to us.
One of our goals for the semester will be to explore new situations in which we can assert our own opinions and hear the voices of those around us.
Academic Integrity Standards
Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions, and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion.
***The following schedule is subject to change. Weekly Assignment Posts on our OpenLab Course site will serve as updates.***
Week 1 – August 31: Introduction, Course Overview || Why Theory?
Readings For Next Week: Helen Armstrong, “Introduction: Revisiting the Avant-Garde” from Graphic Design Theory: Readings from the Field. || Bruno Munari, Design as Art (excerpts)
**NO CLASSES September 7 – Rosh Hashanah**
Week 2 – September 14: Shapes of Communication
For next week: Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics (excerpt) || Ellen Lupton & J. Abbott Miller, excerpts from Design Writing Research.
Week 3 – September 21: Language, Linguistics, Symbols, Signs
For Next Week: F.T. Marinetti, “Manifesto of Futurism” || Aleksandr Rodchenko, “Who We Are: Manifesto of the Constructivist Group” || El Lissitzky, “Our Book”
Week 4 – September 28: Manifestos, Movements and the Avant-Garde
For Next Week: Walter Gropius, “The Theory and Organization of the Bauhaus” || Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, “Typophoto” || Herbert Bayer, “On Typography”
Week 5 – October 5: Bauhaus Function and Form
For Next Week: Beatrice Warde, “The Crystal Goblet, or Why Printing Should be Invisible” || György Kepes, Language of Vision (exc.)
*2-3 page paper due Week 6: Design/Purpose
***IN-PERSON*** – *Week 6 – October 12: Psychology, Advertising and Invisible Forms
For Next Week: Karl Gerstner, Designing Programmes (exc.) || Joseph Muller-Brockman, “Grid and Design Philosophy” || Jan Tschichold, “The Principles of the New Typography”
Week 7 – October 19: International Style Evolution || Mid-Term Assessment
For Next Week: Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media (exc.)
Propose Topic for Research Poster
Week 8 – October 26: Media as Message
For Next Week: Arnold Barban, “The Dilemma of ‘Integrated’ Advertising”
***IN-PERSON***Week 9 – November 2: Context and Representation
For Next Week: Roland Barthes, “Rhetoric of the Image”
Week 10 – November 9: Visual Rhetoric
*2-3 page paper due Week 11: Meaning/Rhetoric
For Next Week: Paul Rand, Good Design is Goodwill (exc.) || R. Venturi, D.S. Brown, S. Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas (exc.)
*Week 11 – November 16: Modern-Post-Modernism
For Next Week: Steven Heller, Underground Mainstream || “First Things First 2000”
Week 12 – November 23: Anti-Brands and Countercultures
For Next Week: Jessica Helfand, “Dematerialization of Screen Space” || Lev Manovich, “Import/Export or Design Workflow and Contemporary Aesthetics”
***IN-PERSON***Week 13 – November 30: New Paradigms; Poster Sessions / Final Presentations Prep
*Week 14 – December 7: Poster Sessions / Final Presentations, Part I
*Week 15 – December 14: Poster Sessions / Final Presentations, Part II