Department of History

Tom Mullaney, Stanford University

Hot Metal Empire: Type Design, Media, and Empire in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East

Event Description

Beginning at the turn of the twentieth century, hot metal typesetting swept through newspaper plants and government printing offices across the United States and Europe – and soon through Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. With missionary-like zeal reminiscent of the Propaganda Fide, and a hunger for lucrative new markets, the manufacturing giant Mergenthaler Linotype and its European licensees carved up the world of script along already lines of empire, colonialism, and the rising power of the United States. Soon, letterform artists and sales representatives in Brooklyn and London found themselves trafficking in Arabic, Armenian, Burmese, Devanagari, Hebrew, Korean, Mongolian, Siamese, and over one hundred other world scripts — scripts once referred to as “Exotic Type,” but now re-cast in the novel term “Non-Latin.” In this talk, Thomas S. Mullaney charts out the global history of this “Hot Metal Empire,” examining the relationship between non-Latin type design, media, and colonialism in the age of modern empire, industrialized production, New Imperialism, and the aftermath of the First World War.


Monday, February 6, 2017


4:30pm to 6:00pm

Location and Address

History Department Lounge
3703 Posvar Hall

Event Series