Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
ART 218A
Course Title:
Calligraphy I - Roman Capitals and Humanist Bookhand
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Covers beginning practical and creative uses of calligraphy, lettering principles, techniques and functions. Includes the traditions and historical development of letters with a focus on the Roman alphabet and Humanist Bookhand. ART 218A, ART 218B and ART 218C may be taken in any order. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

College level reading comprehension is necessary. Art 218 fulfills Arts and Letters requirements for Gen. Ed., block transfer and PCC graduation.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  • Use an understanding of calligraphy as a lens through which to observe hand lettering as a fine and graphic art.
  • Critically evaluate, appreciate, assess and respect the art of handwritten letters.
  • Recognize differences between historical styles of the Roman Capitals and Humanist Bookhand, with an awareness of the social and historical context in which they were developed.
  • Create works of calligraphy that demonstrate introductory level skills in  Roman Capitals and Humanist Bookhand.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

The student will:•participate in, and contribute to, class discussions and studio work sessions. •develop conceptual ideas through the practice of creative research and preparatory studies (i.e., sketches, drafts, mock-ups, dummies). •plan, create and assemble a calligraphic manuscript book. •design a "camera-ready" calligraphic piece. •prepare a research paper on a topic that reflects the historical context of the currently studied script.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

•The historical development of the Roman alphabet, including the influence of both cultural and technological factors on the development of letter styles. •The historical development of the Carolingian and uncial lettering styles in the Middle Ages, and their use in medieval illuminated manuscripts. •Application, interpretation and redefinition of calligraphic ideas, drawing on historical and cultural contexts, while exploring personal expression and creative limits. •The role of 2D design in calligraphy, and letterforms' role in graphic design. •Demonstration and critical analysis of handwritten letterforms, considering legibility, harmony of form and technical skill in writing. •Art materials appropriate for calligraphy. •Techniques employed in the lettering arts, including gilding, illumination, rubrication, and pen-making (quill and reed). •Two-dimensional design concepts as they relate to fine art, graphic design and book design. •The value of craft in art-making. •Exploration of the relationship between form and content, and of how to synthesize idea and image using text and handwritten letters. •Discussion of typeface design, and its roots in and relationship to evolved historical letterforms studied in class. Competencies and Skills:The successful student should be able to:•demonstrate skill in the use of a variety of lettering tools, materials and techniques. •write a historic script. •recognize and appraise the evolution in letter shape and structure due to the influence of writing tools and culture. •trace the development of the Roman alphabet during a particular period. •apply basic vocabulary necessary to discuss the formal, conceptual, historic and technical aspects of calligraphy. •examine the functions of different letterforms, currently as well as historically. •discriminate between various writing styles. •make interesting, challenging, expressive, appropriately crafted works of calligraphy. •produce "camera-ready" calligraphy for print technology. •assemble an appropriately designed, well crafted book structure. •transfer to a four-year college and continue a course of study in the field of fine art, graphic design or art history.