Dori Griffin, Ohio University


This collaborative working session will bring together design educators who use digital archives as a tool for teaching design history, facilitating the sharing of resources and strategies. Both studio-based and scholarly historical teaching modes are welcome. Before the workshop, participants should reflect on their own praxis and bookmark their favorite resources. In what contexts are digital archives most useful as a resource for teaching history? How can digital resources expand our concepts of design history beyond the scope of the traditional Modernist canon of western Europe and North America? Which assignments have fostered successful learning experiences? What are the pedagogical goals of these assignments, and which digital archives have been most useful in meeting them? How might we guide the process of engaging with image research in the digital environment? We’ll use the questions above as a starting point. Further foci may emerge from participants’ dialogue around these introductory questions.

The immediate goal of the session will be for participants to share resources and strategies with one another. The broader goal is that participants will generate collaborative content for a multi-authored journal article. This article will document how design educators use digital archives to foster critical engagement with global historical source material. Many design educators teach graphic design history as an addendum to their studio teaching practice, often without significant institutional support or prior training. Developing a body of case study literature benefits educators and students by providing access to practical yet critically-engaged pedagogical strategies. However, the indexed literature offers little record of the vital yet ephemeral conversations taking place at conferences. This workshop seeks to facilitate and record a substantive, multi-vocal dialogue that will be of lasting practical use to design educators. Participants with on-going investment in the topic may wish to work collaboratively as co-authors after the conclusion of the session. Others may wish to contribute only through participation in the workshop’s dialogue, which will be documented so that contributors may be properly credited.

Explore the digital archives that make accessible the global design history artifacts in the header image (top). From left to right: A 1925 artist’s book by Hagiwara Kyōjirō, Shikei senkoku, in the Monoskop digital archive of Avant Garde magazines; an 1833 Cherokee hymnal in the Duke University Religious Materials collection; a copy of Two Technological Treatises, an Arabic language manuscript copied in Shawwāl 691/12 (1292 CE) and made available by the Qatar Digital Library; an anonymous 1967 Chinese papercut asking viewers to “Support the Army and Cherish the People” from the University of Michigan Digital Collections; and The Kalpasutra, a 1503 Prakrit manuscript (item #L0034105) in the Wellcome Library.


Dori Griffin teaches graphic design and design history at Ohio University. She researches and writes about the history of popular visual culture in the twentieth century, as well as exploring issues in contemporary design pedagogy. Dori has published articles in Visible Language, the Journal of Communication Design, Dialectic, and Imago Mundi. Her first book, Mapping Wonderlands, was published by the University of Arizona Press in 2013. Currently, she’s at work on a book about the history of the type specimen as a visual form and a professional practice. This project emerges from her 2015 research fellowship in the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at the Rochester Institute of Technology.