history of graphic design
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Professor Botnick, kbotnick@art.wustl.edu
Friday 9 —11.30 am Steinberg Auditorium

This course is intended to be a survey of the field of graphic design from its origins to contemporary practice. The goals of this course are to provide the following:

  1. the visual vocabulary of the development of signs and symbols
  2. insight into the continuity of design thinking
  3. understanding the social/political context of the practice
  4. foundation for pursuit of research in the field of design

Our required text is The History Of Graphic Design by Philip Meggs. For each weeks topic you are required to read the sections of the Meggs book listed for that date (designated as (M/1 3)).

There will be two equally weighted exams during the semester. The exams will take place in Steinberg and will be combination of slide identification and essay. The study website for this class is found at http://artsci.wustl.edu/~kbotnick and will be updated throughout the semester.

9/03 origins of writing to moveable type (M/1 4)

9/10 Gutenberg to Garamond and beyond (M/5 8)

9/17 Industrial Revolution/photography (M/9 11) Fox Talbot/Niepce et al

9/24 Arts & Craft/Art Nouveau (M/12 13) Morris/Harry Kessler/Johnston/Gill

10/01 Origins of Modernism/Symbolists/Dada/ (M/14 16) Loos/Wright/Sullivan Walter Benjamin

10/08 Pictorial Modernism, Russians & Dutch (M/17 ) Malevich/Lissitzky/Rodchenko de stijl/Zwart

10/15 mid-term exam


10/29 Bauhaus/New Typography (M/18) Moholy/Bayer/Gropius/Breuer

11/05 International Style/ New York School (M/19 20) Mies/Hoffmann/Rand

11/12 20th c type design/corporate image (M/21 22) feminism/racism/viet nam

11/19 the conceptual image/postmodernism (M/23 25) semiotics


12/03 digital era//review/class discussion (M/26)

12/10 final exam


Because this class meets once each week, attendance is very important. Attendance will be taken each week and unexcused absences will lower your grade by 10 points for the semester. If you must miss a class for any reason please contact me by email either before or immediately after the class, or by phone if email is not available, at 935.8402 x 1. It is imperative for you to be on time to class.

The two exams will account for your grade for the semester. There are no extra credit options. The final exam will not be cumulative as far as identifying individual images. But there are concepts that reemerge throughout the timeline of the class and these you will be responsible for in the essays.


David Abrams, The Spell of the Sensuous, NY Pantheon Books, 1996

Rudolph Arnheim, Visual Thinking. Berkeley, U of California Press, 1969

Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space. Boston, Beacon Press, 1969

Kevin Barnhurst, Seeing the Newspaper. NY Harper and Row, 1972

John Berger, Ways of Seeing, NY Penguin Books, 1972

Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Tyopographic Style. Point Roberts, WA Hartley & Marks, 1992

Anne Carson, Eros, the Bittersweet, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1986

Sebastian Carter, Twentieth Century Type Designers, NY, Taplinger, 1987

Florian Coulmas, The Writing Systems of the World, Cambridge, MA Blackwell, 1991

Guy Davenport, The Geography of the Imagination. San Francisco, North Point, 1981

Guy Davenport, The Hunter Gracchus, Washingoton, DC, Counterpoint, 1996

David Diringer, The Alphabet: A key to the History of Mankind, NY, Philosophical Library, 1953

Donis A Dondis, A Primer of Visual Literacy. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 1973

Geoffrey Dowding, The Finer Points in the Spacing and Arranging of Type, Vancouver, Hartley & Marks, 1995

Magdalena Droste, Bauhaus, Berlin, Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 1990

Johanna Drucker, A Century of Artists Books, NY, Granary Books, 1995

Johanna Drucker, The Alphabetic Labyrinth: Letters in History and Imagination, NY Thames & Hudson, 1995

Harry Duncan, Doors of Perception; Essays in Book Typography, Austin, W. Thomas Taylor, 1987

Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, 2 vols; NY, Cambridge Univ Press, 1979

Jud Fine and Harry Reese, Spine: An Account of the Jud Fine Art Plan at the LA Central Library, Los Angeles Library Association, 1993

Dan Friedman, Radical Modernism, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1994

Albertine Gaur, A History of Writing. NY, Cross River Press, 1992

Eric Havelock, The Muse Learns to Write: Reflections on Orality and Literacy from Antiquity to the Present, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1986

Jost Hochuli, Designing Books, practice and theory, London, Hyphen, 1996

Lewis Hyde, The Gift, Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, NY, Vintage Books, 1983

Richard Hendel, On Book Design, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1998

Ivan Illich and Barry Sanders, ABC: The Alphabetization of the Popular Mind. North Point, 1988

Gerald Janecek, The Look of Russian Literature: Avant-garde Visual Experiments, 1900-30, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1984

Willi Kunz, Typography: Macro and Micro Aesthetics, New York, Willi Kunz Books, 2000

Ellen Lupton, GRaphic Design In the Mechanical Age, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1998

Jerry Mander, Four Arguments for the Ellimination of Television. NY, Quill, 1978

Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics; The Invisible Art. Northampton, MA, Kitchen sink Press, 1993

Ruari McLean, Jan Tschichold, Typographer, Boston, Godine, 1975

Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy. Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1962

Douglas McMurtrie, The Book: The Story of Printing and Bookmaking, NY, Dorset Press, 1971

Philip Meggs, A History of Graphic Design, Third Edition, NY, Wiley & Sons, 1998

Paul Messaris, Visual Literacy: Image, Mind & Reality. Boulder, CO Westview Press, 1994

Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, NY Vintage Books, 1992

Margit Rowell, The Russian Avant-Garde Book, 1910—1934, New York, Museum of Modern Art, 2002

Barry Sanders, A is for Ox, NY, Pantheon, 1994

Fred Smeijers, Counterpunch, Making Type in the 16th Century, designing Typfaces Now, London, Hyphen 1996

Buzz Spector, The Book Maker’s Desire: Writings on the Art of the Book. Pasadena, Umbrella Editions, 1995

Walter Tracy, Letters of Credit, A view of Type Design, Boston, Godine, 1986

Jan Tschichold, The Form of the Book, Point Roberts, WA, Hartley & Marks, 1991

Edward Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Cheshire, CT, Graphics Press, 1983

Edward Tufte, Envisioning Information, Cheshire, CT, Graphics Press, 1989

Wucius Wong, Principles of Two-dimensional Design, NY, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1972