The type of calligraphy : writing, print, and technologies of the Arabic alphabet
- Author(s): Osborn, J. R. (Wayne)
- et al.
This dissertation examines multiple applications of Arabic script and the relationship linking visual design with written communication. It presents typography and calligraphy as distinct communicative practices and explores the importance of print culture and printed material in relation to the rise of the modern bureaucratic state. The work is arranged in seven chapters, each illustrating how changes in the visual appearance of Arabic letters connote distinct channels of textual authority and knowledge. Chapter 1 opens a comparative framework with three models of writing in relation to religious tradition, and Chapter 2 explores written communication through the lens of grammatology. Chapter 3 delves into the Arabic calligraphic tradition, the symbolic interpretation of letters, and the meanings of multiple scripts. With the arrival of print, Arabic writing practices shifted in response to a new communication technology, and Chapter 4 outlines the Ottoman adoption of print technology. This section examines historical and archival material, which chronicles early Ottoman printing as well as post-print developments of Ottoman calligraphic art. The symbolic, visual, and textual changes that accompanied the new medium are addressed in Chapter 5, and Chapter 6 introduces a comparative study of Arabic letter design in modern Jordan. A series of interviews with practicing calligraphers, graphic designers, and contemporary artists highlight diverse applications of Arabic script and the flexibility of written communication and. Finally, Chapter 7 reflects upon the historical trajectory of previous chapters to ask what the story of Arabic script might teach us about the future of writing. This chapter traces the continuity of calligraphy and digital design and suggests a more nuanced concept of writing for digital practice. As practices of writing continue to shift both in the Middle East and globally, visual conventions surrounding Arabic script provide a wealth of strategies worthy of preservation and exploration