Design Research

From print to digital, design is the hub where all publishing activities intersect. Research in the area considers the significance of published works as products, the production process and workflows, and how the design and materiality of texts influences audience reception.

Some of our current projects in the area are listed below:

  • Amanda Lastoria’s doctoral research project explores the industrial mediation of the text via the materiality, and material evolution, of the book. Using multiple editions of a single title – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – as a case study, it seeks to document, historicize and interrogate the ways in which the design and production values of the book multiply and diversify the markets and meanings of the text. The project combines methods and tools of bibliography, book history, publishing history, literary theory and design theory.
  • Throughout Publishing 431, students in the publishing program questioned how form and content can enhance or distort the experience of reading, what roles a designer can play in the publishing process, and the importance (or lack of importance) of a public when creating a publication. This inquiry culminated in Sum of Our Memories, an exhibition exploring different facets of the theme memory while investigating the formats of publication and the act of publishing itself. Part research, part creative expression, the exhibition encouraged audiences to engage all of their senses—vision (by reading publications), touch (by picking up publications and comparing their papers and finishes), taste (by nibbling on retro candy), hearing (by listening to music) and smell (by sniffing “infused” publications)—in order to enhance the reading experience and create new memories.
  • Can crafts be used as a pedagogical tool? Since September 2016, Mauve Pagé has been teaching publication design to undergraduate and graduate students who range from having little or no interest in design to years of experience. She has introduced crafts into her teaching practice as a way to bridge the gaps between students and ensure they focus on mastering design concepts, rather than simply learning software. This new research project puts her anecdotal experiences with crafts to the test, asking how simple activities involving pipe cleaners and construction paper might boost classroom engagement, enhance the learning experience, and encourage students to explore their creativity in a non-digital way.
  • A course taught by John Maxwell each June at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI); it provides a hands-on introduction to the accumulated wealth of text processing strategies and tactics from the past four decades: using them, and considering them in the context of the cultural histories of computing and publishing technology from which they arise. Over the week we work with a range of tools and toolkits, and explore methods for integrating and making text processes more efficient and more convivial — from venerable Unix tools (like regular expressions) to XML and markup concepts through to latter-day digital production methodologies.