Accessibility navigation

Overlooked: the role of craft in the adoption of typography in the Muslim Middle East

Nemeth, T. (2022) Overlooked: the role of craft in the adoption of typography in the Muslim Middle East. In: Reese, S. and Macé, C. (eds.) Manuscript and Print in the Islamic Tradition. Studies in Manuscript Cultures, 26 (26). De Gruyter, Berlin. ISBN 9783110776485 (In Press)

[img] Text - Accepted Version
· Restricted to Repository staff only


It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

Official URL:


This article seeks to contribute a new perspective to the recently revived discourse about the beginning of printing with Arabic movable type in the Middle East. The historiography of Ara-bic print has only tangentially engaged with the visual qualities of texts, and when it has done so it often failed finding an approach that does justice to the appearance of documents. The fi-delity of the typographic representation of the script, and questions related to craft, formal con-ventions, and the reading process, are barely addressed in scholarship of Arabic print history. Yet writing and print are visual media and cannot be fully understood without investigating their material properties. This paper therefore emphasises the materiality of typography and as-pects of typographic craft and reminds us that print is foremost a trade which must fulfil certain requirements in order to thrive. The argument investigates Arabic typography for its fitness for purpose, juxtaposing economic factors, typographic considerations, and cultural aspects. Relat-ing these elements to the reading process, this paper argues that formal criteria of typography are an overlooked explanation for the long disinterest of the Islamic world in typography.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Typography & Graphic Communication
ID Code:106214
Additional Information:The book in which this chapter appears, Manuscript and Print in the Islamic Tradition, will be published Open Access. See
Publisher:De Gruyter

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation