Home Departmental News Alumni Lecture Series – J.R. Osborn: Of Arabic Script and Local Pilgrimages

Alumni Lecture Series – J.R. Osborn: Of Arabic Script and Local Pilgrimages

October 26, 2016

This talk will address two separate research projects, one more “traditional” and one involving media production. The first part will cover my forthcoming book, Letters of Light: Arabic Script in Calligraphy, Print, and Digital Design (Harvard UP). I will discuss the design of Arabic script in relation to three moments of technological transformation: the Middle Eastern adoption of paper in the 10th century, the spread of moveable type printing in the 15th century, and the rise of digital computing in the 20th century. The talk will emphasize the final transformation, exploring the challenges and opportunities of digital Arabic and what they can teach us about digital communication more broadly.

The second part of the talk will present the Georgetown University Technology Design Studio. During the 2015-2016 academic year, the studio spearheaded the Pilgrimage Project, a multi-unit collaboration involving six courses and over 60 students, which culminated in a multi-media exhibit and installation event. I will discuss the pedagogical model of the project, the successful merger of archival and historic research methods with media production, and suggestions for applying our model to other settings.

Bio: J.R. Osborn is a scholar and experimentalist of communication. His work explores media history, design, semiotics, communication technologies, and aesthetics with a regional focus of the Middle East and Africa. Dr. Osborn is currently engaged in a number of research projects across a variety of media:

Related Articles