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Fellow Typophiles, only you can help!
Teaching faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign can propose courses for study abroad. For a long time, I've wondered how to reconcile professionally my vocation as a political theorist with my avocation for type and typography, and I thought: this might finally be it.
I want to send our study abroad office a proposal for a three-week course in Europe on the politics of type/type design/typography, and/or the typography (etc.) of politics--something that might combine politics, history, graphic arts, industrial design, and so on. These short courses are available to all UIUC students, so there would likely be a mix of liberal arts and fine arts students taking part, most of them in their first or second years of school. The earliest this course could happen would be over winter break, from just after Christmas through the first couple weeks of the New Year. The office would like proposals by the 17th for consideration for the 06-07 session, but I'd rather not rush things for this year if it means sending a bad proposal. On the other hand, the proposal itself doesn't require a full itinerary and accounting of all the logistics and arrangements; that would happen over the next few months, assuming the proposal was accepted.
So, why am I asking for your help?
1. Obviously, in a three-week course, you can't tackle every possible aspect of this sprawling topic, so I have to narrow it down pretty severely. I am mining Stanley Morison's Politics and Script, Robin Kinross's Modern Typography, and the Triumvirate for ideas, but there's not a lot in print I've found so far that makes this topic its main focus. So, I wonder: have any Typophiles taken or taught courses on this topic? What did you read? What topics did you cover? What were some of the more successful units that might stand alone as a three-week experience for students? I have thought of things like the history of the Romain du Roi, the discussion on the list last year about totalitarian typography, the politics involved in creating and disseminating different typographic technologies, and so on--but I think hearing your experiences and ideas would help me to narrow something down.
2. Where should we go? Most of these courses visit one city, but I bet as many as two or three cities within a an easy day's rail trip of one another would be acceptable, depending on the topic up for study. I would like to take students to Germany (since I speak the language and know something about the country), but obviously Belgium and the Netherlands would be excellent candidates, too, given the history of European type design. Museums (like the Plantijn-Moretus) would be a big draw, as would chances to visit schools of design or foundries. The students will more than likely only speak English.
3. Would anyone like to help--by inviting students to your office or school or local museum, by giving a talk or lecture or tour, by acting as a liaison between us and people who could help, whatever? There is almost certainly no money involved, but on the other hand, this is your chance to warp impressionable minds in a good direction, and it might take no more than a day of your time.
This could either be the greatest idea of my teaching career (it's not a high hurdle), or far too much for me to handle. I'd love your help in finding out which. Any and all ideas, reactions, and offers would be a great help.