Friday, June 21, 2013

Georgia On My Mind: The Invisible Power of Typeface

(cross-posted with the Iconic Books blog)

My thanks to my colleagues who made sure I saw the article in The Week from a few days ago, "How Typeface Influences the Way We Read and Think."

The insight here is a helpful one for those interested in materialist questions in the study of Scriptures: namely, that the visual presentation of the words themselves create a psychological effect in the reader, leading to increased credulity (in the case, say, of Georgia) or outright derision (as in the case of Comic Sans).

The only book on the subject of which I am aware is Graphic Design and Bible Reading: Exploratory Studies in the Typographical Representation of the Text of Scripture in Translation, by E. R. Wendland and J. P. Louw. Sadly, it looks like it has gone out of print, though I do have a copy if anyone would like to do some more exploration.

Besides that one text, I have not done much formal study of typefaces in Scripture; but I am pretty sure S. Brent Rodriguez Plate has, and I would love to hear his response to this (and other responses, as well).

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

For the Love of Dictionaries

The Chronicle of Higher Education has published three articles in the past week or so with a focus on dictionaries, particularly the Merriam-Webster 3rd Edition and its descendents. All three are by Allan Metcalf, professor of English at MacMurray College and stylish wearer of Tilley hats.

The first, "Redefining the Dictionary," meditates on the movement of dictionaries from print to online, and looks at some of the new features the digital medium might offer.

The second, "Unabridged," looks at the publication of Wesbter's Third New International Dictionary, a volume that brought consternation for its refusal to condemn colloquialisms like "ain't" and so forth.

The third, "Unabridged Online," continues the exploration of the legacy of Webster's Third, arguing that the new online Unabridged is the rightful heir to this storied volume.

Part of what got me interested in materialist issues in the first place was a fascination with the power and influence of dictionaries. Metcalf's reflections reminded me of these interests, and so I share them with you. Enjoy.