Lost World of the Craft Print CB

Lost World of the Craft Print CB

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In the early 1950s the printing trade disowned five centuries of its own history. Within two decades, computer-generated paper phototype had supplanted machine-cast metal type. Every aspect of a process that had changed little since the days of Gutenberg was revolutionized. Thousands of printers were displaced, and a sense of loss--of job status and craftsmanship--beset many of those who had endured the transition from "hot" to "cold" type. This study of nostalgia and the folklore of the workplace reconstructs both the actual and the remembered worlds of the hot-metal printer. Quoting at length from interviews with stonehands, compositors, and Linotype operators, Maggie Holtzberg-Call describes not only the material components of their profession but also their customs, values, and vocabulary--the stuff of which the printers' collective memory is made. She finds that a significant number of printers independently developed similar responses to the deskilling of their craft and the threat of unemployment. Demonstrating a widespread consistency in themes and expressive forms in the printers' occupational narratives, Holtzberg-Call shows that what once served as the printers' rhetoric of tradition is now their rhetoric of displacement. Initiation rites, long apprenticeships, a complex and peculiar jargon, and a gallery of legendary figures once bound hot-metal printers into a specialized, highly regarded occupational folk community. The hot-metal printers' lore has survived in an exemplary form that functions as a source of reconciliation with the demise of their craft. Holtzberg-Call analyzes how and why the printers traditionalize and idealize their work experience, drawing parallelsbetween the shift from mechanical to computer typesetting and an equally disconcerting transition in the nineteenth century, when Linotype deposed handset type. She also shares her knowledge of the many aspects of hot-metal printing culture, from the life of the tramp printer to theshow more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 160.8 x 236.5 x 26.2mm | 612.11g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252017994
  • 9780252017995

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