Date of Award

5-2011

Embargo Period

3-26-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Design (MDes)

Department

Design

Advisor(s)

Suguru Ishizaki

Second Advisor

David Kaufer

Abstract

My thesis pursues the development of a tool to empower designers and non-designers to better understand humor’s function in design and to encourage the use of humor as a rhetorical device to undertake social problems. Humor research is a field that is largely based on linguistic studies, but because of its multidisciplinary stretch in the past decade has displayed a broad rhetorical influence; however, it has yet to form a substantial relationship with design. Through a literature review of linguistic, rhetorical, and design theories, I identified a set of heuristics that guide how humor should operate in design. I then tested the effectiveness of the heuristics, and with their final revision, applied them to designing for motivational problems associated with public displays of political mobilization. My user research inferred the creation of a mobile instructional tool that guides the collaborative and/or individual production of political communication artifacts (e.g. rally signs), which use humor to confront socially complex issues. The artifacts’ implicit intent is to motivate political mobilization and to found and/or empower communities. My project focus entails the creation and testing of the tool on the individual level. Whether the artifacts created produce the desired effect regarding mobilization and community strength is unknown; Future work should lend itself to testing humorous design’s effect on political mobilization and ability to empower communities.

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