What are the pencil’s affordances and limitations? How might this most rudimentary of tools inform our thinking and the way we relate to other texts, other people, and our environments? How do its qualities help us think anew about all the other tools we’ve examined this semester?
Tools used: Throughout today’s class, I’ll provide an array of pencils that we’ll user-test while taking notes, and then we’ll assess the various models’ merits. Yes, this is supposed to be ridiculous.
- Henry Petroski, “What We Forget” in The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance (Knopf,  2002): 3-14 [Why does Petroski talk so much about engineering? Because he’s an engineer and a historian of engineering.]
- Christopher Payne and Sam Anderson, “Inside one of America’s Last Pencil Factories,” New York Times (January 12, 2018).
- Skim Caroline Weaver, “The History of Graphite,” “How a Pencil Is Made” and “On Erasing” in The Perfect Pencil: the Untold Story of a Cultural Icon (Gestalten, 2017): 6-11, 30-41, 42-5.
- Skim David Rees, How to Sharpen Pencils (Melville House, 2012) + watch the companion film: Pricefilms, “How to Sharpen Pencils” (2013) <video: 9:28>.
- If you’ve chosen to respond to today’s texts, please post your reading response by 11:59pm the night before class!