Toward a new practice: Culture, history and printed communication in the United States, 1831-1888

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




David Tatham


graphic design

Subject Categories

American Studies | Art and Design | History


Toward A New Practice: Culture, History and Printed Communication in the United States 1831-1888 is an attempt to provide an alternative model for the writing of the history of graphic design. In this particular history, the tools of cultural and social history are used to document representations of the historical presence of printed communications. The rejection of an emphasis upon visual products moves history from the iconic to the cultural. Tools used to develop this rejection include an appreciation of the vernacular and the anonymous, the exploration of technology, practice, reception, audience, and the worker; an interest in the means used to create and sustain visual forms; and the admission that history is a representation. Topics discussed include the impact of technological change upon communication and reading habits, apprenticeship, the worker's everyday, contributions from those who have been marginalized in previous histories, the author, the almanac, the broadside, and the printer's manual. The movement toward cultural history provides the opportunity to learn from the vernacular, to develop an appreciation of the significance of workways, and to document a cultural role for design.


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