Technologies of Writing

Arabic Manuscript, South India

UC Berkeley undergraduates interested in the Technologies of Writing Course Thread should contact

For at least 5000 years, people have used standardized signs and symbols to communicate. These signs and symbols express, create, and notate languages, mathematical concepts, administrative records, music, and dance, among other things.

While technologies of writing, from clay tablets to electronic media, have changed dramatically over time, the underlying human processes of adapting forms and functions to various media and to the social needs of the time are nevertheless comparable.

This Course Thread investigates technologies of writing as cultural practices that follow rules dictated both by the social environment and by the technical constraints and possibilities of the medium of writing. It uses the historical to reframe modern experiences of writing, and the modern to reframe our ways of understanding historical practices.