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November 01, 2019

Conference ‘Post-war printing : technologies, processes, products’

The Printing Historical Society, the Centre for Printing History & Culture and the Centre for the Study of the Book organised a conference entitled Post-war printing : technologies, processes, products, held at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, on 10 & 11 October 2019.

When the first post-war printing trade show opened its doors in 1955 the organisers enthusiastically declared: ‘man is on the threshold of a new age of technological development.’ This excitement was reflected on the show floor, which was brimming with photocomposing machines, automatic engravers, vast photogravure presses and mammoth cameras. In the pressroom offset was dominant, while in the composing room computer assisted typesetting had come of age.

As the century progressed technology opened up new prospects for the industry, with innovative materials, inks and finishing techniques. One of the furthest reaching of the advances came in 1985 when Apple adopted Adobe’s PostScript page description language for its Apple LaserWriter printer and this, combined with the advent of DTP software, sparked a revolution in typographic technology.

Today the revolution continues and printing has become hybrid, having merged with other technologies such as electronic paper, conductive ink and three-dimensional printing.

Over a period of seventy years technological advancements have revolutionised how printed material is designed, manufactured, distributed and consumed. No longer dependent on mammoth machines the industry is dominated by invisible digital software. Just as technology has changed the way that print is produced, so technology has also brought changes in the culture around its consumption largely due to the democratisation of print through the advent of ‘instant print’ and the availability of technology for the masses.

Despite the huge amount of change in the post-war printing industry and allied trade, this era seems to have received scant attention from historians. This conference seeks to address this gaps and will consider the progress of the post-1945 printing including the technologies, processes and products of print, and also the users and consumers of the printed word.

The final programme was:

DAY ONE Dave Steel From duplicating to digital; Jim Pennington, The stencil duplicator; Gülizar Çepoglu, The break of the rigid dichotomy between text and image; Rebecca Roach, Books or mainframes? Rockefeller and Ford Foundation print policy in the post-war years; Patrick Goossens, From organ to microchip: dissimilarities in technology or from the swan song of hot metal to the hymn of ‘hot’ letterpress; Martin Andrews, Golf-ball typesetting; Erik Spiekermann, Post-digital printing; Mohamad Dakak, The complex status of current Arabic type design and usage in relation to post-war contexts; Vaibhav Singh,Technologies of transition: Intertype’s Fotosetter and filmsetting for Indian scripts.

DAY TWO Gong Xiaofan, Interpretation on the covers of 'Red Books’ 1949-66 in China from the perspective of political iconology; Matthew Wills, Propaganda and paperbacks: Creating a National Socialist readership in Mao’s China; Meaghan Allen, Paper traces: Projekt journal and the distribution of Polish poster design; Wendy Stephens, Modernization or expurgation?: revision and recalibration of canonical American children’s literature; Miriam Intrator, Print and the post-war reconstruction of people; Gina Baber, A paratextual and bibliographical study of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl; Oral history project.

The organising committee comprised: Dr Caroline Archer (CPHC/PHS); Francis Cave (PHS); Alexandra Franklin (Bodleian Library, Oxford); Richard Lawrence (Printer, Oxford/PHS); David Osbaldestin (CPHC/PHS).

Posted by Francis Cave at November 1, 2019 11:07 PM