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Conventions, traditionalism, Latinisation, and modernity in Armenian typefaces across type-making technologies from 1512 to 1977

Papassissa, E. (2020) Conventions, traditionalism, Latinisation, and modernity in Armenian typefaces across type-making technologies from 1512 to 1977. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00099061


This thesis investigates conventions, traditionalism, Latinisation and modernity in Armenian text typefaces across different type-making technologies from their inception in movable type until 1977. The study identifies the factors – technical limitations, typographic trends, Western culture, Armenian identity, readers’ preferences – that influenced the development of Armenian founts by assessing the most significant Armenian typefaces in their historical, social, cultural and geographical context. In the mid-nineteenth century the standard forms of printed Armenian underwent significant changes inspired by Western forms, styles and proportions. This radical transformation is known as Latinisation. This thesis examines the shift from the Bolorgir style to an upright style and establishes the significance of the first Armenian printing house that used Latinised Bolorgir typefaces extensively in its publications. In the twentieth century, developing Armenian typefaces for hot-metal and phototypesetting raised the issue of adapting Armenian letterforms to suit technologies developed for the Latin script. This thesis identifies the complexities of producing Armenian typefaces by leading typefounding manufacturers; analyses the impact of readers’ preferences on the typographic development of the Armenian script. Particular attention is paid to the contribution of the Armenian Diaspora towards the development of Armenian typefaces for emerging phototypesetting technologies, and to Monotype and Linotype’s interest in Armenian typefaces in the late 1970s. The paucity of reliable published narratives on Armenian typography has rendered primary sources, and therefore archival research, crucial to this investigation. Pretwentieth-century primary sources were gathered from various libraries across the UK, Austria, France, Italy and Armenia. Twentieth-century primary sources, such as pattern drawings, correspondence, etc. were studied from different archives in the UK and the USA. This thesis fills identified gaps and corrects inaccuracies in the existing literature; it forms a reliable reference source on Armenian type design providing an original contribution to the understanding of multicultural typedesign.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Leonidas, G. and Ross, F.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Typography & Graphic Communication
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Typography & Graphic Communication
ID Code:99061
Date on Title Page:September 2019


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