Call for proposals special Issue ‘Typography in media historical perspective’.

Call for proposals special Issue ‘Typography in media historical perspective’.

Editors Jack Post & Ewan Lentjes

Since Gutenberg’s invention of moveable type in the fifteenth century, the typographic system has been at the heart of media culture. According to Marshall McLuhan typographic printing is the most influential technology in the history of the West. Typography evolved into a complex and dynamic cultural system of information processing and transfer of knowledge. The subsequent media revolutions especially those of the 19th and 20th century changed the distribution and reception of text and information profoundly and with it traditional conceptions of reading, writing and intellectual practices. The recent introduction of digital technologies force us to reflect on the age-old typographical conceptions of the book, letter, lay out and type and not in the least the craft of typographer.

Typography – and letter design in particular – had traditionally been the professional domain of a small elite of highly specialised craftsmen. This changed radically with the industrialisation and the introduction of new technologies for letter design, printing and reproduction. The profession of typographer gradually changed into that of graphic designer. In the twentieth century, the ‘graphic design’ of multimedia such as film and television, and then of web design and interactive design, led to a further expansion of the work of the graphic designer. We are now at the next turning point, the knowledge and skills of letter and text design have been eased away from the hands of the experts. They have been replaced by an open exchange of knowledge and access to the tools: the Do It Yourself culture.

The new media culture in all its forms is the expression of a structural revolution that we’re still experiencing. Essentially, it stands for a different way of viewing of communication, which so far we can only explain by showing how it differs from the ‘old’ (typographical) print culture. We are living in the midst of radical changes to the cultural system of typography with far-reaching implications for information processing and transfer of knowledge. This special issue of TMG focuses on what we can learn about the cultural, aesthetic and social changes related to earlier ‘revolutions’ in typography, such as the invention of the printing press in the second half of the fifteenth century, the forming of a new kind of literacy and public debate over the 16th century, the processes of standardization and rationalization of typeforms and expression in the late 17th century, the development of mass printing the 19th century or the avant-garde movements in the 20th century.

Contributions should preferably focus on topics related to Dutch/Flemish media and communication’s history. Below follows a list of possible themes (not exhaustive):

- typography and distribution of knowledge and information: the modern era

- typography and the public: scientific development and public debate

- type design: the craft of typographer

- printing techniques and technologies (a the new market driven economy)

- history of Dutch-Flemisch typographic design

- history of printing and the book

- image - text relations (16th century allegorical prints, 19th century books)

- historical artistic avant-gardes

- typography and industrial mass culture

- Do It Yourself and new digital print cultures (dtp, Punk, fan cultures, amateur correspondents)

- kinetic typography

- typography in fashion, architecture, arts..

- corporate design (PTT, SHV, KLM, NS)

- advertising, posters

- typography for television, computer, film

- typography for electronic media (teletext, billboards, signs) and information design

- digital typography

- Surprise us !

Proposals (approximately 300 words) for peer-reviewed articles (6000 - 8000 words) and non peer-reviewed essays (3000 - 5000 words) may be submitted to the editor via Jack Post (<>) no later than January 10th, 2016. A final version of the article is expected by May 1th, 2016. The issue will be published end 2016.

Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis (Journal for Media History) is a Dutch peer- reviewed scientific journal that biannually appears online in open access. The journal accepts contributions in Dutch and English. For author guidelines, see the website:

More information

- Concerning this Call for Papers please contact Dr. Jack Post via

ISSN: 2213-7653