HC101H - The Pencil

Professor: Daniel Rosenberg

4.00 credits

CRN 35738: Tuesday & Thursday, 10:00-11:20am @ GSH 130

If you pay attention to such things, you’ll have noticed that the pencil has been having a comeback. Recently, the iconic Blackwing 602, manufactured by the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company from the 1930s, was reintroduced by Palomino. The new Blackwing pencil fit right in with the revival of Moleskine Notebooks and other analog stylus nostalgia brands around the same time. A few years later, Apple released its sleek white Apple Pencil, a remarkable development given the opinion on the stylus of co-founder Steve Jobs. If you see one packaged with a tablet, you’ll know they blew it, Jobs famously said. Yet there was the Apple Pencil, and no one seemed to be complaining. By the second decade of the twenty-first century, then, pencils were back, whether the old-fashioned Eberhard Faber kind or the hypermodern Apple kind. Why? And what does this return to the stylus tell us about our time? To address these questions, we will look at the pencil through the lenses of history, ethnography, engineering, business, environmental studies, design, art, and literature.