Our first reading assignment consists of an introduction to the primary text we will use in this course, Graphic Design Theory: Readings From the Field compiled and edited by Helen Armstrong. This introduction briefly mentions many of the designers, movements, and texts included in the collection while also describing the author’s own interest in the theoretical aspects of the design process.

Key Themes and Takeaways

  • Revisiting the Avant Garde: Armstrong believes that the ambitions of avant garde artists from the early 20th century should be questioned but should inspire designers of today 
  • Collective Authorship is an constantly evolving aspect of design, in which the producer-consumer relationship plays a key role
  • Universal Systems of Connection have been envisioned a means of uniting people through design, but remain restrictive in many ways
  • Social Responsibility must be a part of the design process, as designers play a key role in shaping society
  • We should ask what role the avant-garde of the new millennium will play


NOTE: Prior to starting this assignment, complete the Week 1 Agenda tasks: setting up Hypothesis, create your Research Journal, and creating an OpenLab Post.

Following the instructions below, read and annotate the text with your classmates in our Hypothesis group. After reading and annotating the text, create a rough draft of your response in your Research Journal. Your response should be about 200 words and checked for spelling and grammar errors. Lastly, create a new post and publish your response.

1. Open the reading.

In a new tab open the text Armstrong, Helen. Graphic Design Theory: Readings From the Field, Princeton Architectural Press, 2009. Navigate to pages 9-15 to read “Introduction: Revisiting the Avant-Garde.”

2. Enable Hypothesis.

The reading link above will automatically open Hypothesis. Login to your account and select our COMD3504_OL08 group (IMPORTANT!) from the dropdown to make sure your annotations and highlights will be recorded in the group. See Using Hypothesis for details.

3. Consider these questions.

Here are the questions to which you should respond in your reading response:

  • According to this author, what role should design play in society?
  • What distinguishes the field, or fields, of design from other creative occupations?
  • Why should designers concern themselves with unsolvable theoretical questions?
  • What role does technology play in shaping design?
  • What are the most urgent problems facing designers today?
  • How, and why, is a designer responsible for solving these problems?

4. Read & Annotate.

Consider the questions/prompts listed above. Start to formulate the answers to these questions while you practice close reading with annotations. This will be part of your grade. Share at least 3 annotations in the Hypothesis group, including your questions, definitions, and ideas with your classmates. Add the tags: Revisiting the Avant-Garde and Reading Response 1 to your annotations.

5. Draft your Reading Response.

In your Research Journal, write a draft of your 200-word response. Check for grammar and spelling errors. Use the word count tool.

6. Post your Reading Response.

When ready, create a new post in this OpenLab Course. At the top of the post copy and paste the following: Armstrong, Helen. “Introduction: Revisiting the Avant-Garde” Graphic Design Theory: Readings From the Field, Princeton Architectural Press, 2009. Pages 9-15. Copy and paste the questions/prompts listed above. Paste your reading response from your Research Journal. Adjust any formatting issues that may have occurred while pasting.

Please be sure to add the following title, category, and tags to your posts. For help with adding Categories and Tags, see OpenLab Help.

  • TITLE: Reading Response 1 – Your Initials
  • CATEGORY: Reading Responses
  • TAG: Reading Response #1
  • TAG: Your Name

Here is an example Reading Response post for reference:

  • Reading Response (Example)
  • Due Date(s)

    • Your reading response is due the day before the next session Sunday, Sep. 5th by 6pm to allow time for review.


    More info


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