SPRING 2023, SPRING 2022
In the 21st century, we are accustomed to seeing election results or infection rates displayed in visual graphics, but the visual display of information has a complex history. This interdisciplinary course examines the visual display of information through significant historical infographics that are held in the Irvin Dept of Rare Books and Special Collections. Selected infographics, which are collections of visuals that communicate information quickly, will serve as the center of an in-depth historical and cultural study of significant issues from a variety of disciplines. Examples include the organization of knowledge in the French Encyclopedia, the argument for the abolition of the slave trade made by the Brooks slave ship diagram, the study of ancient Rome through maps and architectural illustrations, and a pioneering work of ecology. Introductory readings including cultural studies on information and works from the interdisciplinary field known as “image studies” will serve as the conceptual foundation for the broad range of course materials. By meeting in Rare Books, students will be able to engage in hands-on study of the original material contexts of these images. In addition to written assignments and two presentations, students will produce their own historically-influenced infographic.