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DSN 105 — Ten Things from Human History: An Archaeology of Design

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 17—Mar 21
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Jan 30
Units: 2
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $480
Instructor(s): Michael Shanks
Status: Open
7:00—8:50 pm
Jan 17—Mar 21
10 weeks
Drop By
Jan 30
2 Units
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Michael Shanks
Most of us are unconscious of design—our interactions with our everyday artifact world—including the design of intangible experiences such as a visit to a car dealership or healthcare facility. This course will “take apart” ten artifacts from human history to see what went on in their making, use, and maintenance: a prehistoric stone tool, an Egyptian pyramid, an ancient Greek perfume jar, a medieval castle in northern Europe, an 18th-century Wedgwood teapot, the Edison lightbulb, a 1933 Bentley automobile, a 1947 Leica 35 mm camera, a Sony Walkman (c. 1985), and the Apple mouse. Each presented different challenges in figuring out how it worked, in every sense. As we progress we will build a toolkit of insights, questions, and concepts that will enable a better understanding of design innovation and creativity, indeed of our human fascination with things.

Michael Shanks, Professor of Classics; Professor of Archaeology, Stanford

Michael Shanks is an archaeologist and specialist in long-term humanistic views of design and innovation. He is a senior faculty member in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric; Science, Technology and Society; Urban Studies; and the Center for Design Research at Stanford. He has directed the Stanford Humanities Lab and the Revs Program, connecting automotive heritage with contemporary car design. While he pursues fieldwork into the Roman borders of the Netherlands, he also serves on the Mayor of Rotterdam’s Advisory Board and works with many companies, including Airbus, Severstal, Thales Group, Michelin, Daimler AG, and SAP, on developing cultures of innovation.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.