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Abstracts and bios


Typographic Parallax in Environmental Space: Real and unreal depth and transformation in temporal typography

Recent treatment of onscreen typographic environments interpret virtual space as environmental. Environmental space imitates the properties of reality, allowing recreation of processes such as navigation, and the subsequent visual experiences that occur when objects are designed to exploit depth and alignment. In fluid typography, letterforms transform from abstract or pictorial objects over time, either through kineticism or alignment. These behaviours rely heavily on recreating the experiences of concrete objects and spaces. In parallax, for example, objects at varying distances appear to flatten to become a single object when viewed from a particular point of observation. In fluid typography, it is possible to imitate that experience through virtual space, tracked navigation, and the creation of a privileged viewing zone that grants access to a particular alignment of objects. Abstract objects can appear to transform into lettering, and vice versa.

Understanding the letterform as a object, rather than a flat sign, and its backdrop as a space rather than a planar page, encourages connections between the real and the virtual. Virtual typography can imitate the properties of real objects, and sculptural typography can exist in real spaces. Designers are able to approach lettering as no longer contained within one category of environment, but transposable, offering the same kinetic and illusory experiences in real and virtual spaces. This paper will explore examples including television idents, sculptural typography and credit sequences, that have exploited the relationship between real and virtual space, creating kinetic experiences on screen and in concrete landscapes.

Keywords: virtual space, parallax, gestalt, kinetic typography, modularity


Barbara Brownie runs online postgraduate study in Graphic Design and Illustration at the University of Hertfordshire, and contextual studies at the Cambridge School of Visual and Performing Arts. She worked as a multimedia designer before returning to academia to explore aspects of kinetic typography. Barbara has a PHD in' The Behaviours of Fluid Characterforms in Temporal Typography'. Her related research investigates the treatment of letterforms in temporal environments, on screen and in environmental spaces, focusing on form and transformation at a local level and how this can be differentiated from global changes in overall typographic layout. Her books have included 'Type Image' and 'Type Object', responses to trends in contemporary typography, which focus in particular on how the typographic form has evolved into image or sculptural object. Other research outcomes have included articles and papers on the subject of fluid typography in television idents and title sequences.


The Social Semiotics of Polyscriptal Creativity in the Linguistic Landscape of Taipei

This ethnographically-informed study of multilingual/polyscriptal creativity in the linguistic landscape (LL) of Taipei documents the range of languages and scripts visually displayed throughout the city’s urbanscape; presents different types of linguistic interplay (from fairly simple bilingual morphophonemic play to complex phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic interplay); and analyzes ways in which this interplay indexes various Taiwanese identities — ethnic, cultural, socioeconomic and geopolitical.

Analysis reveals a rich repertoire of scripts employed in this creative linguistic bricolage, including traditional Chinese characters (e.g., with default readings of Mandarin, yet carrying subtle Southern Min counter-readings); Japanese (iconic, semantic, and syntactic use of kanji, kana and romaji); English (from iconic letters to complex phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic interplay with other languages); French (iconic usage; phonological, syntactic, and semantic interplay); and an increasing number of other non-Chinese languages — including Danish, German, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Spanish, Thai and Russian. Not surprisingly, language featured in the LL often serves a referential function such as in naming a street, a business, or a location. Additionally, however, there is often a rich poetic/aesthetic functionality (Jakobson, 1960) wherein the form of the script carries the primary semiotic value, e.g., French (or “French-looking”) script signifying distinction (Bourdieu, 1984).

“Global scripts” employed as a marker of distinction have been labeled as “vogue or display language” (Curtin 2009; forthcoming) which (i) is visually salient in the LL, (ii) carries a primary semiotic value via its form, and (iii) signifies distinction via multi-indexical readings of being creative, hip, fashionable, savvy, educated, affluent, and/or cosmopolitan. Display language thus shares a number of features with display typography which involves the “interpretive, decorative, or illustrative uses of letterforms” with “particular associative and decorative values” which are “frequently overt statements of creative intent, rather than neutral carriers of content” (Hill, 2010, p. 50).

This paper thus explores ways in which both script and (typo)graphic design in the LL are key social semiotic resources in constructing and negotiating distinctive frames of identity and place in Taipei. Overall, it is argued that linguistic and typographic creativity in Taipei’s LL is (i) a product of pragmatic function and linguistic form (Chung, 2006; Thurlow, 2012), (ii) indicative of metalinguistic awareness and multicompetence (cf. Belz, 2002), (iii) often best apprehended via lenses of interdiscursivity and multimodality, and (iv) globally informed but locally constructed. Additionally, it is noted that multilingual, polyscriptal and typographic play in Taipei’s LL meshes with a rich Chinese cultural history of homophonic wordplay, aesthetic calligraphy, and display typography.

Keywords: linguistic landscape, display language, display typography, polyscriptal creativity


  • Belz, J. A. (2002) Second language play as a representation of the multicompetent self in foreign language study. Journal for Language, Identity, and Education 1(1), 13–39.
  • Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  • Chung, K. S. (2006). Contraction and backgrounding in Taiwan Mandarin. Concentric: Studies in Linguistics, 32(1), 69-88.
  • Curtin, M. L. (2009). Indexical Signs, identities and the linguistic landscape. In E. Shohamy & D. Gorter (eds.), Linguistic landscape: Expanding the scenery, 221–237. London & New York: Routledge.
  • Curtin, M. L. (forthcoming). Mapping cosmopolitanisms in the linguistic landscape of Taipei: Toward a theorization of cosmopolitanism in linguistic landscape research. International Journal of Sociolinguistics of Language.
  • Hill, W. (2010). The complete typographer (3rd edn.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
  • Jakobson, R. (1960). Linguistics and poetics. In T. Sebeok (ed.), Style in language, 350-377. Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press.
  • Thurlow, C. (2012). Determined creativity: Language play in new media discourse. In R. Jones(ed.), Discourse and creativity, 169-190. London: Pearson.


BIO Melissa L. Curtin, Ph.D.

Adjunct Asst Professor & Coordinator, Special Projects in Language, Culture & Communication
3523 South Hall, University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3100

Areas of interest: Communication and culture; ethnography; social semiotic processes of identification; semiotic landscapes; language and globalization. Curtin’s research and teaching are broadly interdisciplinary, drawing upon the fields of communication and culture, linguistic anthropology, sociocultural linguistics, cultural studies, and cultural geography. The common denominator of her work concerns “identity and the politics of belonging” as she investigates ways in which language and other social semiotic processes are used (i) in processes of identification and differentiation, (ii) in the social construction of place, and (iii) in the positioning of sociocultural groups within frames of “differential belonging.” As a critical interpretivist, she conducts ethnographic research that is informed by critical and cultural theory, maintaining that all social phenomena are best apprehended when analyzed within a field of relations of power as these exist in highly situated economic, historical, and political contexts. Her interdisciplinary appointment at UCSB involves affiliations with the Department of Linguistics, the Department of Communication, the Global & International Studies Program, as well as the Language, Interaction, and Social Organization (LISO) interdisciplinary research focus group and Ph.D. emphasis.

“Mapping Cosmopolitanisms in The Linguistic Landscape of Taipei: Toward a Theorization of Cosmopolitanism in Linguistic Landscape Research,” International Journal of Sociolinguistics of Language (accepted; forthcoming).

“Coculturation: Toward A Critical Theoretical Framework of Cultural Adjustment,” in T. K. Nakayama & R. T. Halualani (Eds.), Handbook of Critical Intercultural Communication (pp. 270-285), Wiley-Blackwell, January 2011.

“Indexical Signs, Identities and the Linguistic Landscape,” in E. Shohamy & D. Gorter (Eds.), Linguistic Landscape: Expanding the Scenery (pp. 221-237), LEA/Routledge Press, 2009.

“Differential Bilingualism: Vergüenza and Pride in a Spanish Sociolinguistics Class,” in N. M. Antrim (Ed.) Seeking Identity: Language in Society (pp. 10-31). Cambridge Scholars Press, Newcastle, UK, April 2007.

“Language & Identity in Taiwan: A Case Study of Language, Power, and Differential Belonging in a Globalized World,” Chapter 6, Globalizing Intercultural Communication: A Reader, K. Sorrells & S. Sekimoto (Eds.), SAGE (a case study on language, politics and citizenship; proposal accepted; due June 1, 2013).

Language on Display In Taipei: Orthographies, Identities, and the Construction of Cosmopolitan Place. Book proposal under review by Cambridge University Press; manuscript in progress.


Visual identity and typography – a design perspective

Signage is an obvious part of the typographic landscape of a city. Systems of signs, like street signs and information signs, guide citizens and visitors in the urban environment. One important aspect of signs, especially since branding has become a competitive factor not only for commercial enterprises but for cities and public authorities, is the urge for a coherent and distinct visual identity. In this talk/text I will look closer at the creation of the new sign system for the University of Gothenburg, in which I was deeply involved as graphic designer in 2006-07. The purpose of my investigation is to track that special know-how of the designer that according to Nigel Cross (Designerly Ways of Knowing, Basel, Birkhäuser 2007, p.27) “rest on the manipulation of non-verbal codes in the material culture”. What is it, and how does it work in the designing of a visual identity based on typography? A designer has a substantial impact on the typographic landscape by making decisions on typefaces and typographic details, on colours, sizes, materials, constructions that become real artefacts in the physical everyday environment. Consequently designers’ choices in some way effect how people decode the typographic landscape. But how? And to what extent? I will focus on the encoding bit of the story and my aim is to demonstrate an example of this, not to give a conclusive answer to the bigger and more general question. By looking at my own process of decision making in the case of the University of Gothenburg I will try to identify and explore the networks of influences both historical and contemporary, and how they manifested themselves through conscious as well as subconscious actions and thinking strategies. My overall strategy in proposing solutions for the visual identity of the university was to find a balance between distinction and recognizability. I think these two notions are fundamental in understanding how designers approach the design of visual identity through typographic means.

Keywords: design approach, visual identity, signage, encoding, networks of influences


I have been working as graphic designer since 1986, mainly in the area of editorial design for magazines, ranging from business magazines, academic magazines and art publications. Another area of my design work is visual identity, including the design of logotypes and applications of the visual identity to a variety of products. Since 2000 I have been teaching graphic design and design in general at the School of Design and Crafts, University of Gothenburg. In 2004 I became senior lecturer and was head of the BFA programme in design. For 5 years I was head of the School of Design and Crafts (2007–2012). Currently I am back to teaching and are heading the international MFA programme in design. My main interest in the academic discipline of design is investigating and understanding graphic design and typography from a critical perspective based in material culture studies and in philosophical discussions about meaning and interpretation. This interest naturally connects to my general interest in the history of typography and graphic design. My main interest in the practise of design is typography, both as a functional means of communication and as an area for artistic experimentation.


The Importance of Haptic Qualities in the Reception of Urban Typography
{ The body language of Urban Typography }

When we are trying to remember what someone explained to us some years ago at a conference it’s possible that we can recall the theme or topic he was arguing about. But do we remember what he was telling us in detail? We probably have forgotten what kind of clothes he was wearing but normally we can remember some kind of image concerning his energy. Was he sympathetic or not? Did he speak out loud or soft? Was his talk aggressive, exciting, boring or confusing? Some elements of our efforts to communicate seem to be stronger than words. When we look at todays web communication on platforms like facebook we probably wonder why we are finding there so many pictures of cats instead of written messages. One answer could be there is not so much to say and that we aren’t able feeding enough material into our news-stream in order to stay permanent visible for others. Another answer lays in the fact that visible forms are able to provoke lots of different associations without producing the necessity to find an agreement on some kind of subject. In direct personal communication bodylanguage is not only a supplement to verbal statements, it sometimes amplifies, changes, or even replaces spoken words. Not only has an increasing use of media to distribute information changed the importance of the body as the central instrument of expression. Gestures and facial expressions aren’t always easy to control. So we have learned to use signals which we can control more precisely. Whenever there is a risk that someone tries to find some weakness in our character we stay "cool." The face stays hidden behind a cosmetic mask. The hair is styled. The body is covered with clothing that also is sign and signal. In interpersonal communication physical contact and the haptic sensations of the skin are playing a prominent role. When we get touched by something in a particular way we do say: "it goes under my skin." Even if we just use our hands to give commands on touch-screens, our perception is to a great deal linked with haptic experiences. We have an idea how it feels when we touch something hard or soft, warm or cold, smooth or rough, wet or dry. When we are using materials to set characters, then we have these feelings in mind. This gives dead matter a living quality. When we are looking now at the graphic elements we find at almost every corner in our urban surroundings, we make the experience that we don’t read these signs like books. The whole scene gives us a first impression. In general we start analysing the overall context. Is this a dangerous or pleasent place to be? Before we begin to read and begin to ask for the importance of these messages, we are looking for higher-level clues. What tells us the general condition of the environment, what tells us about success or failures, thoroughness or unkindness, poverty or wealth, optimism or despair? How do we measure that? We believe that the material nature of the surfaces is revealing many of the secrets otherwise hidden in the dark. The tactile and visual qualities of the signs in our citys are very important sources of information. The haptic qualities of signs can be interpreted as the bodylanguage of urban communication.

BIO: Markus Hanzer

• Born in Vienna 1955 • Graduated from the Academy of Applied Arts Vienna 1979 • Work and exhibitions as an artist • Art Director of a theatre in Vienna • Since 1980 TV-designer at the Austrian Television ORF • From 1987 to 1991 chief designer of the TV-channel SAT.1 in Munich, Germany •
From 1991 to 1995 head of design at ORF • Typedesigner for FontShop • 1995 to 2006 Creative Director at ‘DMC – design for media and communication’ in Vienna. Participation in the redesign of First German Television ARD, corporate design projects for ARD digital, Phoenix, ATV, Premiere digital, Premiere World, consulting and concepts for arte, Deutsche Bank, Bertelsmann Broadband Group, RWE, Allianz Group, Verizon Wireless, Telecom Austria, VW, ZDF • Since 2001 www.stadtgespraeche.com • 2006 to 2010 manager of the agency for brands, design and technology - mira4. Design for FontShop, Vienna University of Technology, Alpen-Adria-University, ALPINE, HOBAS, RTL, ORF • Since 2011 Partner of Qarante Brand Design, Design for RBB, Museum of Natural History Vienna, City of Vienna, ORF • Lecturer at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, at the University of Art and Design Linz and at the University of MultiMediaArt in Salzburg (Puch / Urstein) • The book »Krieg der Zeichen« (War of Symbols) was published in May 2009, also available as iBook • More informations at: www.hanzer.at


The rage of silence: Typographic expressions of the underground public/private identity of queer, male sex workers

“That bit of rent’s gone now. He used to be on the battle down by the Chapel. Regular little bit of rough trade he was, but he took it up the tan track all the same. Still, you had to watch out. He’d ginger you like a shot and there was this nasty hock that use to work with him. The number of old Aunties who got rolled by them was pitiful. …okay… so I’m no friend of Hilda Handcuff, but I tell you, no body was crying when the demons fell on the place and cleaned him out. He’ll go down for half stretch at least... and that bloody poofter rorter with him.”

You have just read is a description in an argot, of an incident in 1941 where a young male prostitute, who worked the environs of a famous public toilet in Auckland, New Zealand, was arrested by the police following complaints that men were being robbed and beaten by him and his accomplice. The monologue offers a glimpse into a world rendered invisible, to an over ground, public, urban landscape.

This chapter initially offers a consideration of how typography has been employed to construct the replacement identity of queer men in film. In so doing, it begins by examining recurring typographical profiles in promotional cinematic material relating to queer characters. It examines how such treatments have been used to reinforce notions of the other. This, I argue has occurred as part of a process of social power broking that has historically relegated queer men to a position of marginalised, threatening, disempowered, otherness. This has largely occurred through a process of cultural silencing. Through this, the culture of a marginalised group (and their language forms) can be strategically voiced-over by a dominant society’s re-construction of their identity.

Set against this discussion, the paper examines how typography designed for the short film boy1 looked beyond these constructs for inspiration. In so doing, the designer considered themes embedded in the distinctive argot of queer boys who sell sex in New Zealand’s urban spaces. The environments in which they work (the public toilets, streets, agencies and private brothels) offer insights into a largely undocumented argot and identity. The seemingly eclectic nature of their language absorbs into itself elements of prison slang, pig Latin, Polari, gay slang, Maori and localised dialect. More significantly, it is permeated by themes of detachment and ecclesiasticism.

By applying these metaphors to the short film’s visual and typographical design, the director discusses how an alternative, distinctive, and arguably more authentic gay voice was created.

Keywords: argot, metaphor, Queer, invisible identity, male prostitution, typography, public/private urban landscape

1. The short film boy can be viewed at http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/boy-2004

BIO Dr. Welby Ings

Professor Graphic Design
School of Art & Design
AUT University Auckland, New Zealand

Welby Ings is a Professor in Design at AUT University in New Zealand.
He is an elected Fellow of the British Royal Society of Arts, and an advisor to the New Zealand Royal Society on Technology education.
Welby has been a consultant to many international organizations on issues of creativity and learning and is himself an award winning designer, film-maker and playwright. In 2005 his short film boy was shortlisted for the Academy Awards.
He has written widely on issues of social injustice, language and graphic design as cultural practice. In 2001 he was awarded the Prime Minister’s inaugural, Supreme Award for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.

research interests

  • Typography as cultural practice
  • Creative research in higher degree education
  • Narrative structure and design in film, music video and television advertising
  • Queer theory and language.

selected publications (2011-2012) related to typography, linguistics and social context

Ings, W. (2012). Trade Talk: The historical metamorphosis of the language of the New Zealand male prostitute between 1900-1981. Women’s History Review. Routledge. UK: 21 (5): 773-791. Ings, W. (2012). Drawing into being: Ideation as multimodal thinking Multimodal communication 1 (3): 211-231 http://mmcommunication.aut.ac.nz/?q=tc13

Ings, W. (2012). Family matters: Mindfulness and the implications of cultural framing in declarative Queer design theses. In A. Begg (ed.) Wisdom Traditions and Universities: Occassional Papers #5. pp: 79-94

Ings, W. (2011). The compromised voice: A consideration of typography as a linguistic expression of gay identity in the silent film boy. International Journal Linguistics. 30.1. doi:10.5296/ijl.v3i1.776

Ings, W. (2011). Managing Heuristics as a Method of Inquiry in Autobiographical Graphic Design Theses. International Journal of Art & Design Education. 30.2, pp.226-241

Ings, W. [Writer/director/designer] (2011). Munted. Auckland: MF Films and Creative New Zealand. [Typographic short film]


Indexing the global

In their analysis of the condition of cosmopolitanism, Szerszynski and Urry (2006) point at the role of the media, especially television, in providing the cultural groundwork for a vision of ‘global citizenship’ – a collage of globes, bird-eye views of ‘global’ environments such as deserts, icecaps or rainforests, particular wildlife species, and the distant ‘Other’ as part of ‘the family of man’. This is a vision that abstracts the local and particular, that allows (or requires) one to self-absent from place, seeing it from afar and from outside. This paper postulates that this cultural groundwork has also a specific linguistic dimension – a new visual language is being enregistered (Agha, 2003) to create a sense of place as ‘global’.

Drawing largely on examples from the corporate sphere, the paper demonstrates how new, creative ways of using non-standard spelling, punctuation, diacritics and a relatively small number of visual icons (most notably variations on the ‘*heart+’ and ‘*globe+’), construct new fonts and alphabets, written forms increasingly detached from any specific ethnolinguistic group or locality, with only echoes of their origins in any traceable ‘national’ or ‘ethnic’ languages; spectacles of words and phrases to be looked at rather than to be read. Targeting highly mobile cosmopolitans, or those who aspire to this status, these instances of orthographic performance provide a linguistic common denominator for the global consumer culture – internationalsese or globalese. In contrast to the increasingly dominant view of this kind of corporate register as a ‘non-language’ (Piller, 2011) indexing ‘non-places’ (Augé, 1995), this paper argues for its rehabilitation as sociolinguistic innovation indexing the global.

Keywords: globalization, punctuation, semiotic landscapes, space, typography


Adam Jaworski is Professor of Language and Communication at the School of English, The University of Hong Kong. Formerly, he worked at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznao; University of London Birkbeck; and Cardiff University. He co-edits the book series Oxford Studies for Sociolinguistics (Oxford University Press). His books include Semiotic Landscapes: Language, Image, Space London: Continuum, 2010.


Vernacular type variation in Galician and Basque public spaces: a frame analytical approach

The semiotic landscape (SL) is not just the display of languages and images in public space, but also serves as an arena for negotiations and contestations between different communities (Shohamy & Waksman 2009). This is particularly the case in “linguistically and politically contested multilingual contexts” (Pietikäinen 2011) like for example Galicia and the Basque Country. In each one of these cases the SL reflects the power struggle between different language communities and political groupings. This paper centers on one particular feature of the SL, namely typographic variation.

Based on the premise that typographic variation today constitutes a vital social practice (Spitzmüller 2012) and the observation that it has acquired “metacultural significance” (Coupland 2012) within the Basque and Galician SL:s where families of vernacular types during the last century have emerged as an important tool for the construction of Basque-ness and Galician-ness, this paper identifies and examines sex socio-cultural frames that currently inform the typographic choices and practices that are performed in public space.

  1. The frame of cultural renaissance.
  2. The frame of nationalist resistance.
  3. The frame of political institutionalization and cultural normalization.
  4. The frame of vernacular commemoration.
  5. The frame of cultural commodification.
  6. The frame of artistic and metacultural comment.

Through the paper these frames are also discussed in terms of their interconnectedness to local socio-political processes, on the one hand, and economic, technologic and cultural processes with global reach, on the other hand.

The findings suggest that there is a layering in the contemporary Galician and Basque public spaces of old and new frames, and that while there is an ideological overlap among certain frames; an ideological tension exists between others. The frames of cultural renaissance (1), nationalist resistance (2), and vernacular commemoration (3) celebrate vernacular typography as an important feature of autochthonous and authentic local cultures. However, the most frequent and influential frames today are the ones of political institutionalization (3) and cultural commodification (5). Whereas vernacular type within the former is seen as marked and non-desirable in a modern democratic society, it is valued within the latter as a commodity for tourist consumption, urban theming and place-branding. The ideological tension emerging between these two frames illustrates the central role performed in contemporary minority nation-building by the discursive interaction of pride and profit (Duchêne & Heller 2011).

Keywords: typographic variation, vernacular type, semiotic landscape, national identity, cultural commodification, frame analysis, Galicia, the Basque Country


Coupland, Nikolas 2012. “Bilingualism on display: The framing of Welsh and English in Welsh public spaces.” Language in Society, 41, 1-27.

Duchêne, Alexandre & Heller, Monica (eds.) 2011. Language in Late Capitalism. Pride and Profit. London/New York: Routledge.

Pietikäinen, Sari; Pia Lane, Hanni Salo, Sirkka Laihiala-Kankainen 2011. ”Frozen actions in the Arctic linguistic landscape: a nexus analysis of language processes in visual space”. International Journal of Multilingualism, 2011, 1-22.

Shohamy, Elana & Shoshi Waksman 2009. “Linguistic Landscape as an Ecological Arena: Modalities, Meanings, Negotiations, Education”. In: Shohamy & Gorter (eds) Linguistic Landscape: Expanding the Scenery (pp. 313-331). London: Routledge.

Spitzmüller, Jürgen 2012. Graphische Variation als soziale Praxis. Eine soziolinguistische Theorie skripturaler ’Sichtbarkeit’. Habilitation thesis for the Venia Legendi in the field of Germanic Linguistics.


Johan Järlehed earned a PhD in Spanish in 2008 with a dissertation on the visual promotion of the Basque language, and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Languages and Literatures at the University of Gothenburg. He is also serving as deputy director of the Centre for European Research (CERGU) at the same university. In August 2013 he is taking up a position as Associate professor in Spanish language at the Department of Culture and Communication at the University of Linköping.

Järlehed’s concern with ‘language’ has always been broad, in the sense that he has been looking at the way that language as linguistic variety interact with other semiotic resources (like material, color, fonts, etc.) and social practices in the ongoing negotiation of social meaning and structure (e.g. in nation-building, language learning, and advertising).

His principal research interest has so far been the interaction of language, culture and identity within minority nation-building, in particular in the Basque, Catalan and Galician cases. He is also interested in tourism and authenticity work, as well as the role of culture within the study of languages, and has lately also been dedicated to the study of linguistic and semiotic landscapes. A common denominator throughout his work has been the concern with the visual, both as picture/surface and as configuration/ideology.

Relevant publications

Järlehed, J 2008. Euskaraz. Lengua e identidad en los textos multimodales de promoción del euskara, 1970-2001. Göteborg: Göteborgs universitet.

Järlehed, J 2011. “Att läsa språkliga landskap. Några teoretiska utgångspunkter och kritiska kommentarer”. In: Ahlstedt, Eva (ed.) Theorising Textuality. Theorising Reading. Om vetenskaplig teoribildning inom kultur- och litteraturforskning. Studia interdisciplinaria, linguistica et litteraria 3. Göteborg: Göteborgs universitet. P: 79-103. Full text: http://gupea.ub.gu.se/handle/2077/26843.

Järlehed, J 2012. “La letra vasca. Tradición inventada, nacionalismo y mercantilización en el paisaje lingüístico de Euskal Herria”. In: Teresa Fernández Ulloa (ed.) Ideology, Politics and Demands in Spanish Language, Literature and Film. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. P: 334-357.

Järlehed, J (Submitted) “Evolving symbolic divides in Basque language promotion logos”. In: Andrén, Lindkvist, Söhrman, Vajta (eds.) Facing Borders and Identities in Europe. (Currently reviewed by Routledge)


Mapping the use of typefaces. Typographic trends in different media and countries

Letters have been everywhere around us for a long time – be it functional typographic signage on street signs, life long layers of hand painted lettering on shop windows, or the quickly written daily menu on a sandwich board. They give a picture of our – not only visual – cultural heritage.

Yet the streamlining of design and production, locally and internationally, is undeniable. Globally operating companies want to maintain a unified look and communication in all countries, designers seek education and inspiration from outside their “home culture”, and online font vendors sell the same typefaces everywhere.

Simultaneously, we see a growing love for the local and ephemeral. Guided lettering walks are offered, not only around typographic conferences but for the general public, rising interest and awareness. Vintage letters, wood type and old signage are sold for increasing prices at interior stores or Ebay. Type aficionados everywhere take photos of signage, found letters and ghost signs across the globe and post them on Flickr, tagged by location or with the photo’s EFIX data mapped to an online map, and thereby documenting the vernacular lettering styles across the globe.

What is it that suddenly interests us so much in the locality of a sign, popular type use or unique look of a region. The search for the original in an increasingly similar looking world?

Albeit still being the classic goto place for high quality photosharing, Flickr isn’t the only site where you can find type mapped to a location. There has been a recent surge in “type mapping” sites and apps. From plotting the birthplaces of printers, designers, and manufacturers, important events of typographic history (Typomapp), specifically portraying sightings of just one designer (Roger Excoffon), or one medium (Project Neon) to the general documentation of type in use across the globe (Fontli, Fonts In Use with which I’m trying to contribute my part to the phenomenon.)

Browsing these sites and apps is not only an entertaining way to travel the world or help a typographer prepare their vacation. With a critical number of entries they identify (type-)cultural centers, special points of interests and of course different styles in different countries and eras, like the preference of script styles in the 50s (and recent resurgence), use of blackletter in signage, the very curly scripts in Amsterdam, the light-bulb signage culture or the United States, unique squarish sans serifs in Scandinavia, or a preference for single story g’s in Germany.

BIO Indra Kupferschmid

Markusstr. 40
53129 Bonn, Germany

Indra Kupferschmid is a German typographer and teacher at HBKsaar, Academy of Fine Arts Saarbrücken, where she holds a professorship in typography. Alongside this she is occupied with book design, bitmap fonts and other type related projects, DIN committees on legibility and type classification, terminology, the history of Grotesks and how this is all intertwined. She is co-author of Helvetica forever by Lars Müller Publishers and Buchstaben kommen selten allein, a typographic reference book. She contributes to print publications and websites such as fontsinuse, typedia and typographica as well as juggling her own small- and ultralarge-scale projects.

since 1999 Self-employed designer, consultant, educator and writer in the field of typography, book-design, corporate design, typeface design, especially bitmap fonts for user-interfaces, classification and the younger history of type. Clients include large and small international companies and institutions, several large and small international type foundries, and independent designers. The studio was based in Weimar, Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf and is now in Bonn and Saarbrücken.

since 2006 Full-time tenured professor of typography and communication design at the Academy of Fine Arts Saarbrücken (HBKsaar)


1993–1999 Studies in Visual Communication at the Bauhaus-University Weimar, German Diploma (equivalent to MFA) with distinction.

Publications (selection of recent titles)

in progress: Choosing Typefaces (working title), on typeface selection and classification

in progress: revision of TippTipps and expansion into a series of small volumes about type- and typography-related topics

in progress: Type Record, a detailed database of analog and digital typefaces

2012: Schrift und Identität. Die Gestaltung von Beschilderungen im Öffentlichen Raum (Type and identity. The design of signage systems in the public space). Co-author/editor.

2007: Helvetica Forever. Co-author. Lars Müller Publishers, Zürich
Currently writing/publishing online on kupferschrift.de, FontsInUse.com, Typedia.com, Hamburgefonstiv.de, contributing to Typographica.org and more. Member of the editorial boards of Codex magazine and Smashing Magazine.

Research topics and areas of interest/expertise

  • type classification, terminology and the selection of typefaces
  • history of the type industry and foundries in the later 19th and 20th century
  • type production in history and present
  • type specimens
  • choosing typefaces
  • legibility of typefaces
  • bitmap fonts, typedesign for crude output devices
  • webfonts and (responsive) web typography
  • history of early sans serifs, especially Akzidenz-Grotesk, Neue Haas-Grotesk/Helvetica, Venus/Ideal/Arial, Neue Moderne Grotesk aka Aurora, Normal, Accidenz or Carioli
  • 1930s squarish geometric serif typefaces like Corvinus, Mondial, Schadow, or Quirinus
  • oeuvre of the designers Georg Trump, Georg Salden, Hildegard Korger
  • the private Cranach Presse in Weimar by Harry Graf Kessler and its typefaces
  • GDR typeface design


The Geo-politics of Latino Design: A Case of Typographic Inspiration Across Barrio Landscapes

This paper examines how barrio landscapes, most often defined as low-income Latin/o American majority places, influence typographic design and its politics of Latino representation. Why do designers draw inspiration from urban environments and what is the political significance of doing so for the places of inspiration and an emerging field of Latino design? To answer this question this paper approaches geopolitics as a term that moves beyond the purview of political science and foreign policy to also encompass geographic and political dimensions of global cultural production and representation (Toal and Agnew 2003: 456; Jameson 1992). The objective is to study how geography and politics produce aesthetic hierarchies and the ways in which Latino designers respond to these cultural value systems. I examine the case of Pablo Medina, a Latino graphic designer and typographer, whose creative process draws from the street culture of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Union City, NJ, and reveals how aesthetic value and the politics of representation vary across spaces. Just as the geographic, economic, political, and aesthetic asymmetries of each place Medina draws inspiration from elicit varied creative responses in his work, I suggest this case points to issues facing the cultural politics of design across the Americas more generally. In a U.S. context, street-inflected design is often unacceptable by urban elites in gentrifying or middle-class neighborhoods, but welcomed in commercial projects, and hipster places. Sometimes cultural difference is affirmed and displayed publicly to disrupt the normative visual order of cities, at other times design simply contributes to the imperatives of capital in urban spaces. In the D.R. design inflected by street culture is pushed aside to privilege a modern contemporary aesthetic in the hope that this style will evolve into actual economic modernity, a practice observable in other Latin American places where distaste for such “lowbrow” design conveys a socio-economic status. By analyzing the geographic range and political-economic aspirations reflected in Medina’s typography, this paper brings to the fore a global image economy of Latino typography and design. Studying Medina and the places he engages with, also shows that Latino typography follows, but also contests, a dominant spatial order depending on geographic, political, and economic specifics, and thus reminds us that design styles must be contextualized in order to attend to their social significance.

Keywords: urban landscapes, Latino design, aesthetic value, and cultural politics

Select References:

Londoño, Johana. 2010. “Latino Design in an Age of Neoliberal Multiculturalism: Contemporary
Changes in Latin/o American Urban Cultural Representation.” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. 17, no. 5, 487-509.

Jameson, Frederic. 1992. The Geopolitical Aesthetic: Cinema and space in the world-system.
Bloomington: Indian University Press.

Toal, Gerard, and John Agnew. 2003. “Introduction: Political Geographies, Geopolitics and
Culture,” in CulturesHandbook of Cultural Geography, Kay Anderson and Mona Domosh, eds. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 455-461.

Rancière, Jacques. 2004. The Politics of Aesthetics. London: Continuum.


Johana Londoño is an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino Studies at the University at Albany, SUNY (State University of New York), where she arrived in 2012 after receiving a Ph.D. and M.Phil. from the American Studies Program, Dept. of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. Prior to that, she received a BFA from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City, where she specialized in graphic design and printmaking. Johana is currently working on a book manuscript based on her dissertation, Aesthetic Belonging: the Latinization of Cities, Urban Design, and the limits of the Barrio, which was recently awarded an honorable mention by the Puerto Rican Studies Association Conference. Johana's manuscript primarily examines the top-down workings of the Latinization of US cities from the perspective of aesthetics, visual culture, and political economy. Londoño is a Ford Foundation Fellow, a Smithsonian Latino Museum Studies Fellow, and a Northeastern Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellow. Her publications include a special issue in Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, and a chapter in the recently published volume, Latino Urbanism: The Politics of Planning, Policy, and Redevelopment.



Graphic DNA: Is it possible to construct taxonomy of public lettering on pubic buildings, which integrate use, position and lettering style?

Birmingham is a typical UK city that has undergone a transformation from one dominated by manufacturing industries to one lead by service and creative enterprise and multi-national commercial retail businesses. At the same time it has experienced a huge demographic change with the historical influx of immigration. Evidence of such industrial, economic, social and ethnic changes can be reflected in the public lettering and type found on the street producing a visual graphic DNA.

Using a systematic approach focusing on three specific areas for research within Birmingham I intend to develop specialised taxonomy employing an exhaustive classification process. The data gathered would be qualitative and allow thematic results, which will be analysed to explore a variety of themes based purely by the visual evidence of the lettering and type recorded. This process will also allow the analysis and comparison of lettering patterns and trends in specific geographic, social and economic areas of Birmingham.

Nicolete Gray – historian, art teacher, scholar and teacher of lettering and typography – was the first to initiate a study of lettering as part of a city’s visual identity in the UK. Herbert Spencer, British designer and editor of Typographica, (1949–67) introduced the art of street lettering when he presented the photographic practice of a number of graphic designers including Robert Brownjohn, who, in 1960, produced ‘Street Level’ a photo essay which captured London city street graphics and shop signage. Other significant studies of civic, public and vernacular street lettering include Alan Bartram, and typographer and graphic designer Jock Kinneir. Professor Phil Baines and Dr Catherine Dixon both of Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design have collaborated in researching and recording street lettering and signs around the UK and have produced an on-line interactive tour of London’s sites of special lettering interest.

Although others have captured urban lettering on camera, this project is unique because it will be the first time that such a structured, detailed and concerted project has been undertaken. It will also be the first major project to define a British city though its lettering and typography.

The case to produce taxonomy to record letters arose when I discovered that it had been suggested by Earl M Herrick, Professor of linguistics at the Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and a specialist in the study of writing systems ‘Taxonomy of Alphabets and Scripts’ Visual Language (1974). Herrick recognised the complexity of recoding the variety of alphabets, which cultural writing systems may produce: to which he developed a guide for a linguistic taxonomy, which included consideration of the characteristics of each letter of the alphabet. This guide was primarily applied to typography but Herrick noted the need for further investigation into the use of taxonomy in this way.

The research aims to create a detailed layer of information and evidence to support the work of social historians, urban planners etc and will be structured in such a way that the areas covered can be re-traced for decades to come - allowing continued updating and study for future generations. If successful the taxonomy could be adapted and applied to other cities and discipline creating a dialogue with other professionals and raise awareness of how influential the graphic landscape is in defining an regional area’s character; and poses the question; Is it possible to construct taxonomy of public lettering on pubic buildings, which integrate use, position and lettering style?


Graphic DNA is the subject of my PhD Research Project, under the supervision of Dr. Caroline Archer, Birmingham City University and Professor Phil Baines at Central St. Martins, London.

My PhD research aims to develop and implement a systematic taxonomy to record the typography and lettering of Birmingham; the result of which will help broaden understanding of the city’s social, cultural, ethnic and historical visual identity and poses the question: Is it possible to construct taxonomy of public lettering on pubic buildings, which integrate use, position and lettering style?

My interest in lettering and typography has dictated both my academic professional career path and also my role as a partner in Lowercase Design; a Birmingham based graphic design practice. I am particularly interested by street lettering - how it communicates, how it is perceived and how it impacts the landscape. My research stems from my undergraduate investigations into lettering and typography in the urban environment - the visual effect on its surroundings and the thought process of its application – accidental or intentional. As well as building an extensive photographic archive recording the ever-shifting (typo)graphic landscape of my home city of Birmingham (UK), I also lead type tours of the urban environment for students and other enthusiasts. As part of my research practice am also responsible for the day-to-day management of the Graphic DNA project at the Typographic Hub (Birmingham City University) led by Dr Caroline Archer.

Research: http://www.typographichub.org/research/entry/graphic-dna/

E-mail: geraldine.marshall@hotmail.co.uk
Follow: @BHamGraphicDNA


Writing one language in the accent of another: the role of simulation typefaces in the linguistic landscape

This presentation examines the creative interplay between languages and scripts on display in the streets of Kuwait and the UK, and specifically some of the ways in which one language is represented via a script conventionally associated with another. It goes on to explore how such signage is interpreted in context by a diverse range of readers/receivers.

Much work in the field of linguistic landscape has concentrated on the quantification and classification of languages and scripts in the multilingual environment. Previous research has identified challenges in the classification and interpretation of such signs, including the complex semiotic relationship between the contextual and spatial distribution of languages (Spolsky, 2009). This presentation will argue that conclusions about the ‘language’ in which a sign is written based solely on the choice of script are likely to misrepresent the often complex semiotic processes involved in the production and reception of signs.

Previous research (see Seargeant 2013) has identified three creative processes involved in the production and addressivity of signs in a multilingual environment (specifically, the way the linguistic practices of the intended audience influence the composition):

  • the use of ‘simulation’ typefaces which may represent English words but, through the use of fonts drawn from non-Roman scripts, serve to index other cultures stereotypically in the manner of ‘foreign accents’;
  • product and company names which use typographical distinctiveness or diacritical marks for similar purposes;
  • the transliteration of English words into another script, akin to lexical borrowing.

Depending on the knowledge and experience of each reader/receiver, such multimodal and/or metaphorical signs may or may not be interpreted as ‘English’, or as indexing Anglophone culture. There is no guarantee that any ideational meaning will be recognised beyond the symbolic idea of ‘Englishness’ or, in some cases, ‘Frenchness’. Indeed what is verbal to some may be interpreted as simply visual or decorative to others.

Scollon and Scollon (2003) were amongst the first to argue for an ethnographic approach to the interpretation of signs in the linguistic landscape. In this tradition, we examine the responses to a diverse range of signage in our two contexts by subjects of different ages, genders, linguistic and cultural backgrounds, drawing on three levels in the reception of signs identified by Smith (1992), namely intelligibility, comprehensibility and interpretability.

Keywords: biliteracy; transliteration; 'simulation' typefaces; addressivity; audience response


Scollon, R. and Scollon, S. W. (2003) Discourses in Place: Language in the Material World, London, Routledge

Seargeant, P. (2013) ‘Between script and language: the ambiguous ascription of English in the linguistic landscape’ in Helot, C., Barni, N., Janssens, R. and Bagna, C. (eds) Linguistic landscape, multilingualism and social change: diversité des approches, Frankfurt, Peter Lang

Smith, L. E. (1992) ‘Spread of English and issues of intelligibility’ in Kachru (ed) The Other Tongue: English across cultures, Urbana, University of Illinois Press, pp.75-90

Spolsky, B. (2009) ‘Prolegomena to a sociolinguistic theory of public signage’ in Shohamy, E. and Gorter, D. (eds) Linguistic landscape: expanding the scenery, New York, Routledge, pp.25-39


Nay Hannawi is a lecturer in Linguistics at the Faculty of Language Studies at the Arab Open University, Kuwait. She was born in Lebanon and finished a BA in English Language and Literature from the American University of Beirut. She has a Masters of Fine Arts in Literary Translation from the University of Arkansas, USA. Her translation of the Lebanese novel Autumn Equinox, into English, was published by the U of AR Press, and she has since published translations of short stories and poems from Arabic to English, in addition to a few original poems. She has experience from teaching English mainly as ESL and teaching Arabic as a Foreign language. Her main interest in research is on language acquisition in bilingual settings, multimodality and the role of the visual in the current linguistic landscape, and cultural and linguistic impacts of translation.


Subliminal iconicity. An alphabet of selected typographical cases.

In distinction to the field of linguistics, the discourse of visual art uses the term “iconicity” in the function of the derivation of an adjective, pointing at a particular, iconographic quality of a visual entity. The contribution proposes to focus on typographical cases, as visual entities of the everyday public realm, due to their specific iconographic qualities, which release meaning beyond the linguistic sign. Furthermore, such meaning might be unstable, or even unintentional. The developed perspective is different than the one of a graphic designer, who most likely maintains an active relation to designing as making meaning.

Along presenting a loose series of collected and selected cases of typographical material, amongst them the sign-­‐board of an agricultural association (aspiring to be as cool as the famous national airline), a city name in monumental letters on a roundabout with stingy agavae, a weathered road sign, or the window lettering of a laundrette, the contribution intends to show how the degree of control over the meaning of a linguistic sign – a word, a name – released into public realm, and into the multidimensional reality of space, is rapidly decreasing, compared to text on a plane. Therefore, one could argue that the iconographic meaning of a linguistic sign in the public realm may be triggered off, but it also may appear unintentionally.

Against the backdrop of a historical, and contemporarily reaffirmed hierarchical authority of (natural) language, not least in the sciences and academia, iconographies, and thus perception of visual and embodied meanings, deserve representation, enquiry, and debate. The proposed supra-­‐alphabetical gaze could activate a perspective of encounter and observation rather than linguistic reflection or design, pointing towards the embodiment of narration, which might be one of the true places performing a given culture.


Hinrich Sachs, born 1962, artist and writer, living in Basel, CH and Stockholm, SE
since 2007 professor at the Royal institute of Art / Kungliga Konsthögskolan, Stockholm, SE
2013 visiting professor at Musashino Art University, Tokyo, JP

Selected projects und exhibitions

2012 Kami, Khokha, Bert and Ernie (World Heritage), Tensta konsthal, Stockholm, SE; It’s Her / Det är hon, a theatreplay, published by OEI editör, Stockholm, SE 2011 Specters of the Nineties, Marres, Centre for Contemporary Culture, Maastricht, NL 2010 On doit exposer sa vie pour la liberté (Don Quichotte), Galerie Skopia, Geneva, CH 2009 A Fantasy for Allan Kaprow, Contemporary Image Collective, Cairo, EG 2007 Mascotgang for Pulheim (unrequested), public
art project, Pulheim/Cologne, DE 2006 -10 Five World Heritage Landscapes, public art project, Düsseldorf, DE 2005 Designing Truth. As Guest: Ansgar Philippsen, Structural Biologist, a documentary film. Casco Projects, Utrecht, NL 2004 Kami, Khokha, Bert and Ernie (all together now), Marres, Centre for Contemporary Culture, Maastricht, NL 2002 As Guest: Leonore Mau, Photographer, Kunsthalle Basel, CH

Selected writings

2011 Travelogue as Allegory. A spreading exhibition (with Maja Wismer), in: The Blue Notebook, Vol 6, no.1, Bristol, UK 2009 Moving. Prospects for a Myth of the Modern, in: An Invention of Allan Kaprow for the Moment, ed. Pirotte/Oeghoede, Kunsthalle Bern, CH Hydra, the Chicken and the Egg, in Goldin+Senneby: Headless, ed. Burke/Goldin+Senneby, The Powerplant, Toronto, CN 2005 Holiday from the Self, in: Looking, Encountering, Staging, ed. Anke Bangma, Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam, NL 2002 Codes versus cultures, a conversation with Cindy van den Bremen, in: representin‘, Neid Magazine Nr. 9, Berlin, DE


The Letter K as Ideological Device in the Spanish Typographic Landscape.

In this paper I will analyze the functions of the use of <k>, instead of the orthographic <c> or <qu> in Spanish, as it appears in the Spanish semiotic/typographic landscape. I will show different cases that can be gathered under three different groups; actually one can distinguish three different uses for this heterography: different contexts and different functions. 1) A political one, with the main function of clearly politicizing messages or conveying ideological meanings, as for the word okupación as it appears in radical left-wing posters, instead of orthographic ocupación [squatting, occupy]. 2) A commercial one, with the main function of attracting attention, as for the name of the real estate company kasa, instead of casa [home]. 3) A stenographic one, which occurs in many different contexts, with the main function of responding to the need for reducing the time/space of writing, as for the graffiti te kiero, instead of te quiero [I love you]. This typology is actually much more complex than it seems, for functions and contexts mix up in an inextricable hybridism, as when, the political <k> is used, in a process of decontextualization and recontextualization for selling commodities, as in the case of the advertising hazte bankero [do become a banker]of the Spanish bank Bankia.

I will present different cases of <k>, outlining the operative typology sketched above; I will focus more specifically on the political k, trying to trace his genealogy; I will compare its use with the commercial k and I will analyze those case where political k is become a “political” logo, or it has been commoditized or recontextualized in order to sell commodities.

KEYWORDS: k; heterography; orthography; writing system; political k; okupa; bankero.

BIONOTE: Francesco Screti, MA in Communication Studies (Università di Torino, Italy) and Master of Advanced Studies in Linguistics (Universidade da Coruña, Spain), is PhD candidate (ABD) in Applied Linguistics at Université de Fribourg (Switzerland): www.francescoscreti.eu


Urban Palimpsests and Contending Signs: Mapping Printers’ Lives and Letters

In June 1890, the internationally renowned typographer and printer, Robert Coupland Harding, moved from a small provincial town to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. He signalled his arrival by means of his registered printers’ mark, lifting the richly evocative, parti-coloured symbol off the printed page and painting it boldly on the side of his printing establishment, inserting it into the urban semioscape, and proclaiming his new identity. Competing with the visual noise of billstickers and signwriters, the price-gouging antics of rival printing firms, and preferential tenders bestowed upon politically-backed monopolies, his business, however, did not flourish. After downsizing, taking on partners, and relocating from the hub of government to the city’s industrial quarter, by 1897, Harding sold all his printing equipment and returned to the humble métier of compositor.

Although the original Lysaght Building has long since been demolished and Harding’s sign relegated to the buffed-out bin of history, his story is repeated continually today as the printing industry undergoes massive technological and structural change. By following the ghost-trails of these historic and contemporary urban palimpsests, we can document printers’ lives and letters. We can also investigate how the transformation of this industry occurs at the intersection of public space and the public sphere. If graffiti has, historically, focused the debate between public and private spaces and spheres, then urban palimpsests open up another compelling vein of exploration, blurring the distinction between state-sponsored signage, corporate advertising, and the culture-jamming practices of billboard liberationists and graf writers. By using a geosemiotic framework (Scollon & Scollon, 2003), this paper examines the making and remaking of public space through the memory landscapes of talking walls and contending signs, all of which‘provide a unique window on the politics of the public sphere’ (Low and Smith, 2006).

Keywords: printers, ghost-signs, typography, urban semioscapes, New Zealand

Biographical Information

Dr Sydney J. Shep is Senior Lecturer in Print & Book Culture and The Printer, Wai-te-ata Press, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. She has published extensively on colonial print culture, typography and design, and translocal book history. She leads a three-year Marsden Fund, Royal Society of New Zealand project entitled “The Printers’ Web: Global Communication Networks and the Typographic Press System in the Long Nineteenth Century” which includes an investigation of geospatial narratives using new digital tools for text mining, data visualization, and social network analysis.

Relevant Publications:

  • “Books Travel and Transform,” in The Cambridge Companion to Book History, ed. Leslie Howsam (Cambridge, forthcoming 2014).
  • The Printers’ Web: New Tools to Crack Old Chestnuts,’ in Repurposing the Digital Humanities, ed. Katherine Bode and Paul Arthur (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming, 2014).
  • ‘Cultures of Print: Materiality, Memory and the Rituals of Transmission,’ Journal of New Zealand Literature 28:2 (2010): 183-210.
  • ‘“Smiley, you’re on candid camera,” Emoticons and Pre-Digital Networks,’ Mémoires du livre / Studies in Book Culture, vol. 2.no.1 (2010). Special issue: Book Networks and Cultural Capital: Space, Society and the Nation / Réseaux du livre et capital culturel : territoire, société et nation http://www.erudit.org/revue/memoires/2010/v2/n1/045315ar.html?vue=resume
  • ‘Imagining Post-National Book History,’ Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 104, no.2 (June 2010): 253-68.
  • ‘The Sociology of McKenzie’s Treaty,’ in D.F. McKenzie’s Bibliography & the Sociology of Texts (Edinburgh: Scottish Centre for the Book, 2010), 35-64.
  • ‘Books without Borders: The Transnational Turn in Book History,’ lead essay in Books without Borders: The Cross-national Dimension of Book History, volume 1, ed. M.E. Hammond & Robert Fraser (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 13-37. And in New Word Order: Transnational Themes in Book History, edited Swapan Chakravorty & Abhijit Gupta (New Delhi: Worldview, 2011), 13-41.
  • Keynote Address: ‘Painting the Town Red. Typographical Terrorism & the Politics of Cultural Space,’ Canadian Association for Studies in Book Culture / l’Association canadienne d’études de l’histoire du livre, Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities, Toronto, May 2006. ‘The Restaurant at this End of the Universe: Edible Typography in New Zealand’ in Visible Language "Words in Space" special issue 34:2 (2000), 104-141.


Graphic variation and graphic ideologies. A sociolinguistic approach.

Until recently, sociolinguistics showed limited interest on scriptal communication. Writing was assumed to be static, norm-bound, invariable. To a discipline that deals with “language variation and change” and “everyday speech”, the topic seemed to be out of scope. In recent years, however, the situation changed in the wake of evolving “everyday writing” practices. Sociolinguistics became aware that script is a highly variable resource and that this potential is used when “social meaning” is constructed in discourse (cf. Sebba 2009 for a survey). However, as far as graphic variation in a broad sense (and most importantly typographic variation) is concerned, Unseth’s (2005: 19) verdict that scriptal variation is “a neglected area within sociolinguistics” still holds, notwithstanding the attempts to correct this “fundamental oversight” (van Leeuwen 2005: 138) within the social-semiotic strand.

In this talk, a new sociolinguistic approach to graphic variation is presented (cf. Spitzmüller 2012b). It draws on interpretive and ethnographic theories and concepts of variation and social meaning and thereby proposes to adapt those long-established and empirically grounded theories and concepts to the field of graphic variation. The core of the approach is a concept of socially stratified “graphic knowledge”, which is put forward and negotiated in(to) discourse and thus provides the basis for social actors’ (social-)semiotic ascriptions of “meaning” to graphic forms. An important part of this graphic knowledge are “graphic ideologies” (Spitzmüller 2012a), sets of beliefs about the meaning and use of graphic variants, and about the users who are (assumed to) using it. The talk shows examples of such ideologies and demonstrates how they can be metapragmatically analyzed.

keywords: typography, sociolinguistics, language ideologies, graphic knowledge


van Leeuwen, Theo (2005): Typographic meaning. In: Visual Communication 4/2, pp. 137–143.
Sebba, Marc (2009): Sociolinguistic approaches to writing systems research. In: Writing Systems Research 1/1, pp. 35-49.

Spitzmüller, Jürgen (2012a): Floating Ideologies: Metamorphoses of Graphic ‘Germanness’. In: Alexandra Jaffe/Jannis Androutsopoulos/Mark Sebba/Sally Johnson (Hgg.): Orthography as Social Action: Scripts, Spelling, Identity and Power. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton, pp. 255–288.

Spitzmüller, Jürgen (2012b): Graphische Variation als soziale Praxis. Eine soziolinguistische Theorie skripturaler ‘Sichtbarkeit’ *Graphic variation as a social practice. A sociolinguistic theory of scriptal ‘visibility’+. Habilitation thesis for the Venia Legendi in the field of Germanic Linguistics, submitted to the Faculty of Arts of the University of Zurich on March 21, 2012 [publication forthcoming 2013].

Unseth, Peter (2005): Sociolinguistic parallels between choosing scripts and languages. In: Written Language & Literacy 8/1, pp. 19–42.


Jürgen Spitzmüller is a senior research assistant for Germanic Linguistics at the Institute for German Studies, University of Zurich, Switzerland. He received his Ph.D. in 2004 for his research on attitutes towards Anglicisms in the German-speaking press (cf. Spitzmüller 2005). In 2013, he was granted the Venia Legendi (Habilitation) for German Linguistics for his research on “graphic variation” as a social practice (cf. Spitzmüller 2012b).

His main research interests are located in the fields of sociolinguistics (language attitudes, language ideologies, folk linguistics, discourse analysis) and visual communication (text design, graphic variation).

Selected publications

2005: Metasprachdiskurse. Einstellungen zu Anglizismen und ihre wissenschaftliche Rezeption [Metalanguage discourses. Attitudes towards Anglicisms and their scientific reception] Berlin/New York: de Gruyter (Linguistik – Impulse & Tendenzen ) [= PhD thesis, University of Freiburg 2004].

2006: Typographie. In: Christa Dürscheid: Einführung in die Schriftlinguistik [Introduction to the linguistics of writing]. 3rd, rev. and comp. ed. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht (Studienbücher zur Linguistik ), pp. 207-238 [4th, rev. and upd. ed. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2012].

2007a: Graphisches Crossing. Eine soziolinguistische Analyse graphostilistischer Variation [Graphic crossing. A sociolinguistic analysis of grapho-stylistic variation]. In: Zeitschrift für Germanistische Linguistik 35/3 (thematic issue “Schrift – Text – Bild”, ed. by Christa Dürscheid), pp. 397-418.

2007b: Staking the Claims of Identity: Purism, Linguistics and the Media in post-1990 Germany. In: Journal of Sociolinguistics 11/2, pp. 261-285.

2007c (with Kersten Sven Roth) (eds.): Textdesign und Textwirkung in der massenmedialen Kommunikation [text design and text effects in mass media communication]. Konstanz: UVK.

2011 (with Ingo H. Warnke): Diskurslinguistik. Eine Einführung in Theorien und Methoden der transtextuellen Sprachanalyse [Discourse linguistics. An introduction to theories any methods of trans-textual language analysis]. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter (De Gruyter Studium).

2012a: Floating Ideologies: Metamorphoses of Graphic ‘Germanness’. In: Alexandra Jaffe/Jannis Androutsopoulos/Mark Sebba/Sally Johnson (Hgg.): Orthography as Social Action: Scripts, Spelling, Identity and Power. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton, pp. 255–288.

2012b: Graphische Variation als soziale Praxis. Eine soziolinguistische Theorie skripturaler ‘Sichtbarkeit’ *Graphic variation as a social practice. A sociolinguistic theory of scriptal ‘visibility’+. Habilitation thesis for the Venia Legendi in the field of Germanic Linguistics, submitted to the Faculty of Arts of the University of Zurich on March 21, 2012 [publication forthcoming 2013].


Cyrillic writing for a Latin language: The Socialist Republic of Moldova 1930–1990

Writing systems are political, and typography is just as rich a source of cultural insights as gastronomy. (Otl Aicher, 1922–1991, leading German graphic designer of the 20th century)2

The proposed paper wants to explore the role that typography played in conveying ideologies and political systems and is a brief report from the first part of a field study in Chisinau, The Republic of Moldova. The material will show the first findings related to the typographic landscape in the daily newspapers during 1930–1990 as well as related agitprop documents connected with the introduction of the Cyrillic alphabet as a writing system for the Romanian language.

Moldova is presented by the official site of the country as »an integral part of Europe *…+ situated in the contact zone between different cultural and historic trends. *…+ Since 105 B.C. - after the conquest of Dacia by Emperor Trajan, the local population was romanized, taking from the conquerors their language *…+. In 1812 as a result of the Russian-Turkish Peace Treaty signed in Bucharest, the eastern part of Moldova situated between the Prut and Nistru rivers, named Bessarabia, was annexed to the Russian Empire. *…+ In 1918 the supreme authority of the Bessarabian state – Sfatul Tarii, (Country Council) decided to unite with Romania. This unity lasted till 1940, the year when the country was annexed by the Soviet Union as a consequence of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact of 1939. Moldova functioned as a territorial entity within the USSR until the last decade of the XXth century. On the 27th of August 1991, Republic of Moldova became an independent and sovereign state.«3

Romanian is the official language of the country and an important issue of the national identity.

The »Moldovanization process« started already in the 1920’s aimed among other ethno-cultural objectives to impose the Cyrillic alphabet as a writing system for the Romanian language spoken on the territory of Moldova.

Through the introduction of the Cyrillic alphabet the typographical landscape was changed, becoming inaccessible for the readers of the Romanian language written with the Latin alphabet. A new national identity, Moldavian, emerged and the letter shapes were an important part of it.

The ones in charge with the Moldavization process« were not only agitprop activists but also scholars engaged with the new mission of demonstrating the sovereign identity of the Moldavian language.4

Moldavian archives

The Archive of socio-political organizations in Moldova has a large number of documents concerning the so called »Moldovanization« process carried out by agitprop activists.

Moldavian newspapers

Some glimpses from the typography of the daily newspaper Moldova Socialista (The Socialist Moldova) and the youth newspaper Tinerimea Moldovei (The Youth of Moldova) will be discussed.


A first contact has been made with three informants with different ages all having their own experience of the Cyrillic writing system for the Romanian language.

Keywords: typography, politics, Cyrillic, Latin, writing systems, national identity, rhetoric, visual.

BIO Arina Stoenescu

Born 1969 in Bucharest, Romania Arina Stoenescu grew up during the communist era and started her design and art career with studies at the Nicolae Tonitza Art High School at the graphic design department.

She graduated in 1994 from Konstfack, National College of Arts Crafts and Design in Stockholm has a Master of Fine Arts degree with a major in Graphic Design and Illustration and graduated 1994.

Lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden since 1989 as a graphic designer and educator. Interested in typography, children culture and Romanian topics.

Arina Stoenescu is a lecturer at the Media technology department at Södertörn University, Stockholm with a focus on typography and graphic design and she is the initiator of two unique courses in Sweden concerned with type design.

Her main research interest is typography and politics but also the rhetoric of typography and graphic design and her proposal for doctoral thesis has been accepted at the prestigious University of Reading, Typography and Graphic Communication Department with Susan Walker as supervisor.

She is presently working on her first year of doctoral studies and has been granted for seven months of field studies in Moldova by the Swedish Institute within the Baltic Sea Cooperation programme.

Arina Stoenescu is also the founder of the micro publishing house pionier press based in Stockholm with a focus on bilingual children books, experimental typography and Romanian topics.


2 Peter Bain, Paul Shaw, Blackletter: Type and National Identity (New York: Princeton Architectural Press & The Cooper Union, 1998) p. 10.
3 (http://www.moldova.md/en/istorie , (12-04-2012)
4 Gribincea, Argentina; Gribincea, Mihai; Siscanu, Ion: Politica de moldovenizare in RASS moldoveneasca (Chisinau: Civitas, 2004)


Kinetic Typography

In this talk I explore kinetic typography as a semiotic mode which began with animation experiments by Norman McLaren and others, became more widespread in film titles and television commercials, and is now available to every computer user through software such as PowerPoint and Adobe After Effects.
From a semiotic point of view this history began with inventive visual metaphors, some of them eventually becoming cliché’s, to then acquire more hard and fast structuration as a result of the codification necessary for incorporating kinetic typography into semiotic software.
Despite developing ‘rules’, kinetic typography can be used creatively, as I will show through an interpretation of the work of David Byrne who used PowerPoint as an artistic medium.


Theo van Leeuwen is Professor of Media and Communication and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Sydney.

His main research areas are visual communication, critical discourse analysis and multimodality. He has published widely in all these areas. His most recent books are Global Media Discourse, co-written with David Machin (Routledge, 2007), Discourse and Practice (Oxford University Press, 2008) and The Language of Colour (Routledge, 2011). He is a founding editor of the journal Visual Communication, published by Sage, and now in its 12th year of publication.


Johan Järlehed

Box 200, 405 30 Göteborg

Lundgrensgatan 7

031-786 1777

Sidansvarig: Fredrik Fällman|Sidan uppdaterades: 2013-05-30

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