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16195437_10210468974154468_5650833496211969033_n.jpg

Prof. David Alworth

Course Description
Design is ubiquitous, complex, and difficult to define. It affects almost everything that we experience through our senses, and it permeates our lives, both waking and sleeping. Texts, images, objects, environments, identities, minds, social encounters, and political arrangements are all shaped by design, which has a subtle yet definite power that often operates below the threshold of conscious perception. And yet, design emanates from the conscious mind; in the most capacious sense, as the Oxford English Dictionary explains, it designates a “plan or scheme conceived in the mind and intended for subsequent execution; the preliminary conception of an idea that is to be carried into effect by action; a project.” With this definition in mind, you could construct a 500,000-year history of design, beginning with the primitive tools of protohumans and extending to the open-source code on GitHub. Or you could begin even earlier, say, with God.

This course takes a more modest, historical approach. After establishing working definitions of both “design” and “literature,” we’ll turn our attention to modern American culture, which will form the material context for our investigation into eight design targets—commodities & things, art & kitsch, architecture, images, information, spectacle, performance, and books—and their literary representations, broadly conceived. Our analyses will be informed by seminal works of critical theory and by recent scholarship in a range of fields: literary studies, art history, media theory, &c. Much of this scholarship stages explicit questions about interpretive methodology that we will address as we plunge into particular historical cases and cultural scenes.
Prof. David Alworth

Course Description
Design is ubiquitous, complex, and difficult to define. It affects almost everything that we experience through our senses, and it permeates our lives, both waking and sleeping. Texts, images, objects, environments, identities, minds, social encounters, and political arrangements are all shaped by design, which has a subtle yet definite power that often operates below the threshold of conscious perception. And yet, design emanates from the conscious mind; in the most capacious sense, as the Oxford English Dictionary explains, it designates a “plan or scheme conceived in the mind and intended for subsequent execution; the preliminary conception of an idea that is to be carried into effect by action; a project.” With this definition in mind, you could construct a 500,000-year history of design, beginning with the primitive tools of protohumans and extending to the open-source code on GitHub. Or you could begin even earlier, say, with God.

This course takes a more modest, historical approach. After establishing working definitions of both “design” and “literature,” we’ll turn our attention to modern American culture, which will form the material context for our investigation into eight design targets—commodities & things, art & kitsch, architecture, images, information, spectacle, performance, and books—and their literary representations, broadly conceived. Our analyses will be informed by seminal works of critical theory and by recent scholarship in a range of fields: literary studies, art history, media theory, &c. Much of this scholarship stages explicit questions about interpretive methodology that we will address as we plunge into particular historical cases and cultural scenes.
Prof. David Alworth

Course Description
Design is ubiquitous, complex, and difficult to define. It affects almost everything that we experience through our senses, and it permeates our lives, both waking and sleeping. Texts, images, objects, environments, identities, minds, social encounters, and political arrangements are all shaped by design, which has a subtle yet definite power that often operates below the threshold of conscious perception. And yet, design emanates from the conscious mind; in the most capacious sense, as the Oxford English Dictionary explains, it designates a “plan or scheme conceived in the mind and intended for subsequent execution; the preliminary conception of an idea that is to be carried into effect by action; a project.” With this definition in mind, you could construct a 500,000-year history of design, beginning with the primitive tools of protohumans and extending to the open-source code on GitHub. Or you could begin even earlier, say, with God.

This course takes a more modest, historical approach. After establishing working definitions of both “design” and “literature,” we’ll turn our attention to modern American culture, which will form the material context for our investigation into eight design targets—commodities & things, art & kitsch, architecture, images, information, spectacle, performance, and books—and their literary representations, broadly conceived. Our analyses will be informed by seminal works of critical theory and by recent scholarship in a range of fields: literary studies, art history, media theory, &c. Much of this scholarship stages explicit questions about interpretive methodology that we will address as we plunge into particular historical cases and cultural scenes.

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