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Devanagari type in the twentieth century

Singh, V. (2017) Devanagari type in the twentieth century. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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This thesis examines the twentieth-century history of the design of typefaces for on India's most widely used scripts, Devangari, and addresses the historical framework of Devangari type from the beginnings of mechanical composition to the advent of digital technologies. Focusing on some of the significant initiatives that enabled textual communication of this script, and investigating the dynamics behind these developments, this thesis positions the design process in its entirety - not merely the marketing end-products of design - as a key resource for understanding and explaining technological change in specific geographical contexts. Acknowledging the social and economic imperatives involved in the process, this thesis also extends an analysis of the political dynamics as work in the visual representation of the language. A majority of historical narratives in type and typography have tended to approach technological innovations as autonomous developments, transforming and reinventing cultural practices as they are transmitted beyond their point of origin. The argument of the thesis contest this view by locating both the products and the processes of technology within the realm of cultural agency and contextual adaption. It does so specifically by examining transnational professional networks and by tracing type-making projects across geographies separated by widely differing notions and circumstances of development. This research aims to make a significant contribution to knowledge in the field, for the first time building on documentary evidence from primary sources spread over three continents. It draws on original archival material such as letter-drawings, artwork, process documents, company correspondence, business records, trade literature and industry documentation, as well as private collections across seven countries - including India, UK, US and Japan - to critically examine the history of the design process for Devanagari type.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Ross, F. and Banham, R.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Arts and Communication Design
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Typography & Graphic Communication
ID Code:78269

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