Returning to the Object of Study

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


British Art and Design undergraduate programmes include a historical and theoretical element known as Contextual Studies or Design History. The purpose of Contextual Studies is to underpin the students’ studio work. It has become all too common in many Art and Design institutions for students to rely on the Internet for research in their Contextual Studies and studio work. This paper advocates that students need to return to more traditional and reliable sources, such as academic books, journals, and museums. Museum visits should play an essential role in the delivery of a Contextual Studies programme, since there is no substitute for first hand observation of the designed object. With reference to a visit to the Imperial War Museum’s, “Weapons of Mass Communication” exhibition, this paper discusses how students can respond to museum visits in both their Contextual Studies and studio work. However, exhibitions like “Weapons of Mass Communication” are rare, since museums concentrate on exhibiting high cultural artefacts and not ephemera. This paper proposes that; museums should exhibit more popular cultural artefacts for the benefit of Design students. This paper has been prompted by the author’s teaching experiences at the University of Glamorgan, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Salford, discussions with fellow Art and Design Historians at other institutions, and a desire to encourage students to recognise the worth of design history as a discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Mass Media Research
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2010


  • obama
  • political advertising
  • 1984


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