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The Rhetoric of Fonts

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Type of Assignment: 
Assignment Length: 
Additional Pedagogical Goals: 

This exercise encourages students to look at font selection as a rhetorical activity. It also encourages discussions of style. More practically, font selection will be an important first step in creating a web page.

Required Materials: 

Web browsers

Timeline for Optimal Use: 
Full Assignment Description: 

After a brief discussion of typography, and a clip from the film Helvetica, students will search the web for a typographic design that is featured on a web page, print publication, album cover, or other source. Once they find a design, they will take a screen shot and use WhatTheFont! ( to decipher what the font is. They will do a bit of research on the history of the font, look for other uses, and analyze how the font is used in the publication, and write 500 words about the font's history, context, and rhetorical significance.

Suggestions for Instructor Preparation: 
Instructions For Students: 

Read this

Watch this

Do this

Reflect on this

Evaluation Suggestions: 

Part of the portfolio

Part of the website

Course Description: 

New media, new genres, and new methods of evaluation are emerging as digital technologies change the way we write. How do we know what writing is when our writing spaces are constantly shifting? I suggest that we keep our ear to the ground. In Noise Jacques Attali writes “music is prophetic and … social organization echoes it.” Music often moves faster than writing instruction. Because audio recording technologies are woven into our culture we can understand certain aspects of social organization by learning more about them. In this class, students will read about the intersection of digital culture and audio recording. Students will create podcasts (audio and/or video) based on a social issue of their choosing. They will write supporting materials (web pages, logos, posters) explaining and promoting the podcasts.

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