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The typographic Times


[February 2006]
A Short History of “Typography”, the MP3
by Ken Botnick, Associate Professor, Washington University Art School


“Four years ago I was asked to develop a course in the history of graphic design for our students in Visual Communications. I also teach the foundation course in typography for those students and chose to structure the class partly as an extension of their studies in typography.

K.Botnick, IndiaFor some reason I have developed the habit over the years of making badly rhymed couplets and began doing it with some of the less likely rhyming words we encountered in our studies. I also began challenging the students to use topics we had covered in a particular lecture in a rhyme— or rap— for next class. They weren’t very adept. But I recognized this as a way to get some of the most formulaic information across to them in a palatable fashion as a mnemonic device. My thinking was that if they could get the very basic points in the history to be effortless in recall, then the other, more complex, information would naturally branch out from there.

It became a rap when I stole—sampled—some music from the rappers Jurassic 5 as my backup. (My apologies to them, I hope they never hear it.) The MP3 has taken on a life of its own, a favorite of my students to forward to their parents.”

Download “Typography”, the MP3

Website: History of graphic design