Illuminating Letters: Typography and Literacy Interpretation

Illuminating Letters: Typography and Literacy Interpretation

by Paul C. Gutjahr
     
 

ISBN-10: 1558492887

ISBN-13: 9781558492882

Pub. Date: 04/09/2001

Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press

What do we read when we read a text? The author's words, of course, but is that all? The prevailing publishing ethic has insisted that typography—the selection and arrangement of type and other visual elements on a page—should be an invisible, silent, and deferential servant to the text it conveys.

This book contests that conventional point of view.

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Overview

What do we read when we read a text? The author's words, of course, but is that all? The prevailing publishing ethic has insisted that typography—the selection and arrangement of type and other visual elements on a page—should be an invisible, silent, and deferential servant to the text it conveys.

This book contests that conventional point of view. Looking at texts ranging from the King James Bible to contemporary comic strips, the contributors to Illuminating Letters examine the seldom considered but richly revealing relationships between a text's typography and its literary interpretation. The essays assume no previous typographic knowledge or expertise; instead they invite readers primarily concerned with literary and cultural meanings to turn a more curious eye to the visual and physical forms of a specific text or genre. As the contributors show, closer inspection of those forms can yield fresh insights into the significance of a text's material presentation, leading readers to appreciate better how presentation shapes understandings of the text's meanings and values.

The case studies included in the volume amplify its two overarching themes: one set explores the roles of printers and publishers in manipulating, willingly or not, the meaning and reception of texts through typographic choices; the other group examines the efforts of authors to circumvent or subvert such mediation by directly controlling the typographic presentation of their texts. Together these essays demonstrate that choices about type selection and arrangement do indeed help to orchestrate textual meaning.

In addition to the editors, contributors include Sarah A. Kelen, Beth McCoy, Steven R. Price, Leon Jackson, and Gene Kannenberg Jr.

About the Authors:
Paul C. Gutjahr is assistant professor of English at Indiana University and author of An American Bible: A History of the Good Book in the United States.

Megan L. Benton is associate professor of English at Pacific Lutheran University and author of Beauty and the Book: Fine Editions and Cultural Distinction in America.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781558492882
Publisher:
University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date:
04/09/2001
Series:
Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book
Pages:
216
Product dimensions:
6.52(w) x 10.82(h) x 0.83(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Reading the Invisible1
Ch. 1The Letter(s) of the Law: Four Centuries of Typography in the King James Bible17
Ch. 2Peirs Ploubman [sic] and the "formidable array of blackletter" in the Early Nineteenth Century47
Ch. 3Typography and Gender: Remasculating the Modern Book71
Ch. 4Perpetua(l) Notion: Typography, Economy, and Losing Nella Larsen97
Ch. 5The Autograph Manuscript in Print: Samuel Richardson's Type Font Manipulation in Clarissa117
Ch. 6"The Italics Are Mine": Edgar Allan Poe and the Semiotics of Print139
Ch. 7Graphic Text, Graphic Context: Interpreting Custom Fonts and Hands in Contemporary Comics165
Notes on Contributors193
Index195

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