Typography

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Typography studies the form and function of alphabetic and pictographic systems in English-speaking society. The course aims to imbue in you a critical perspective on the role typography plays in the history and sustenance of civilization and the propagation of ideas throughout society. You will read historical, theoretical and evidence-based literature to glean principles for designing communicatively effective type. Verbal and visual assignments will enforce your understanding of typographic principles and grammar for use across print and digital interfaces.

LEARNING OUTCOMES AND ASSESSMENT MEASURES: Upon completion of the course, you will be able to manage a typographic project from conception to production within a limited timeframe; communicate understanding of print and digital typographic principles and grammar verbally (orally and in writing) and visually; render type digitally using code and in print using the industry-standard applications for typesetting. To that end, I will evaluate you on your ability to achieve the following milestones:

MILESTONES 1-4: Use your evolving knowledge of typography to design, iteratively, a self-promotional kit that includes a logotype, business card, cover letter, resume, and a digital portfolio interface to begin showcasing your work. Milestone one is the logotype. Milestone two is the business card, cover letter, and revised logotype. Milestone three is the resume and revised business card, cover letter, and logotype. Milestone four is a digital portfolio interface accompanied by a revised resume, business card, cover letter, and logotype. Use up to two fonts for this series of milestones. Keep the choice of font(s) consistent from milestone to milestone in order to create a unified presentation.

MILESTONE 5: With the rise of big data and globalization, picture-based fonts and glyphs are resurfacing to serve meaningful roles in the representation and communication of large amounts of content across cultures, intellectually and geographically. However, the typographic principles (e.g. kerning, leading, and tracking) for composing the Latin alphabet do not translate readily to glyphs whose typographic syntax includes spatial arrangements of lines and shapes governed by grammatical rules related to size, orientation, color, texture, semiosis, and interaction. Individually or in groups of up to 3 respond to the following question typographically, either verbally in writing or visually:

How can a system of pictorial, representational or non-representational glyphs be adapted or innovated to communicate information or data in an aesthetic, organized, hierarchical, readable, legible, and user-friendly way? 

If you choose to respond verbally, by the deadline in the schedule, write, illustrate, and typeset a paper that addresses the question. The paper should be 5000 words (graduates) | 2500 words (undergraduates) not including references. Typeset your paper in a way that exemplifies the typographic principles you’ve learned in the class. You must use supporting graphics to illustrate your argument. You must also support your argument with references and citations to 30 (graduates) | 15 (undergraduates) evidence-based or otherwise credible sources that can include books, journal articles, and no more than 8 media sources. Use MLA style to format in-text citations and the Works Cited section.

If you choose to respond visually to the question, you are required to submit by the deadline in the schedule a design of a new glyph system or the adaptation of an existing glyph system that may take the form of a poster or multi-paged document (e.g. brochure or booklet).

MILESTONE 6: Attend class and be prepared to participate thoughtfully, respectfully, and according to the guidelines in the course schedule. You will exceed expectations for this milestone when you attend and participate in all class sessions or have one absence. You will meet expectations for this milestone with two to three absences. You will fail to meet expectations for this milestone with four or more absences. Being late 3 times by 15 minutes or over will constitute an unexcused absence. Leaving early or taking a break from class for more than 15 minutes will also constitute an unexcused absence.

GRADING: Good typographic design requires iteration. You will receive an “E (Exceeds expectations)” based on how well you: follow the principles for good professional etiquette and  typographic design (missing no more than 2 given criteria from each category–visual and verbal). Otherwise you will earn an “M (Meets expectations)”. If you fail to submit your assignment then you will earn an “F (Fails to meet expectations).” If you receive an “F”or an “M” on Milestones 1-3 and 5, you have all term to revise and resubmit for a better grade.

YOU WILL EARN AN “A” in the course if you exceed expectations for Milestone 1-5 and exceed or meet expectations for Milestone 6.

YOU WILL EARN AN “A-” in the course if you exceed expectations for Milestone 4; exceed or meet expectations for Milestone 6; and exceed expectations for three of the remaining four Milestones (1, 2, 3, 5)–at least meeting expectations for the remaining milestone.

YOU WILL EARN A “B+” in the course if you exceed expectations for Milestone 4; exceed or meet expectations for Milestone 6; and exceed expectations for two of the remaining four Milestones (1, 2, 3, 5)–at least meeting expectations for the remaining milestones.

YOU WILL EARN A “B” in the course if you exceed expectations for Milestone 4; exceed or meet expectations for Milestone 6; and exceed expectations for one of the remaining four Milestones (1, 2, 3, 5)–at least meeting expectations for the remaining milestones.

YOU WILL EARN A “B-” in the course if you meet expectations for Milestone 4; exceed or meet expectations for Milestone 6; and exceed expectations for Milestones 1-3 and 5.

YOU WILL EARN A “C+” in the course if you meet expectations for Milestone 4; exceed or meet expectations for Milestone 6; and meet expectations for Milestones 1-3 and 5.

YOU WILL EARN A “C” in the course if you meet expectations for Milestone 4; exceed or meet expectations for Milestone 6; and fail to meet expectations for one of the remaining four Milestones (1, 2, 3, 5).

YOU WILL EARN A “C-” in the course if you meet expectations for Milestone 4; exceed or meet expectations for Milestone 6; and fail to meet expectations for two of the remaining three Milestones (1, 2, 3, 5).

YOU WILL EARN A “D” in the course if you meet expectations for Milestone 4; exceed or meet expectations for Milestone 6; and fail to meet expectations for three or more of the remaining four Milestones (1, 2, 3, 5).

YOU WILL EARN AN “F” in the course if you fail to meet expectations for Milestone 4 or 6. Please note that I am required to give you an EWS for excessive latenesses, absences, or poor quality work.

If you have questions about your grade at any time during the semester, please contact me immediately by email.

TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS: You must complete your assignments with the industry-standard software applications for typesetting (Adobe InDesign) and pictographic drawing (Adobe Illustrator). Visit: http://www.adobe.com/products/creativecloud/buying-guide-education.html to pay for a cloud subscription to the Adobe Creative Suite. These software applications are also available in Sage 4510, Vast Lab (Sage 2411), and the VCC in the evening and weekends and when class is not in session. You are expected to have the technical skills necessary to complete the coursework. Advanced instruction on how to use any design software application will not be provided during class time. If you are unfamiliar with the industry-standard design software application mentioned previously, you may pay a discounted subscription for software training tutorials via Lynda.com. Bring your laptop to class.

COURSE TEXTS: The following primary required readings for this course are available through the bookstore:

  • Lupton, Ellen. Thinking with type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004. Print.
  • Lupton, Ellen. Type on Screen: A Guide for Designers, Developers, Writers, and Students. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2014. Print

I will also require graduate students to read secondary texts of their choice that extends the conversation started through the assigned readings. You are to read each required text before the class in which it is discussed. You will have an opportunity to lead a class discussion of the required texts in a small group once over the course of the semester. Plan for discussions running no more than 60 minutes. The required readings are available in soft copy via the course website. On the first day of class, I will distribute a course schedule with the deadlines for completing each required reading. It is a tentative schedule, as supplemental required readings and guest lectures may be added (or deleted) throughout the term as needed.

REQUIRED MATERIALS: A sketchbook, a correction pen (e.g. BIC’s Wite-Out Shake’n Squeeze)

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: Student–teacher relationships are built on trust. For example, you must trust that I have made appropriate decisions about the structure and content of the course; and, I must trust that the assignments that you turn in are your own. Acts that violate this trust undermine the educational process. The Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities defines various forms of academic dishonesty and you should make yourself familiar with these. In this class, all assignments that you turn in for a grade must represent your own work. Submission of any assignment that is plagiarized or otherwise in violation of this policy will result in a penalty of failure of the course.

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