Expanding the design canon: fresh perspectives on women in type and publishing

An evening as part of the ‘Women in Type’ Leverhulme Trust & University of Reading research project in celebration of St Bride Library’s 125th year

With Briar Levit, Rathna Ramanathan, Fiona Ross, Alice Savoie, Martha Scotford, & Mathieu Triay.

Wednesday 10 November 2021
6.30-8.30pm (GMT)
Online via Zoom
Tickets £3–5

Please note: you will be emailed the Zoom link at 6pm GMT on the day of the talk.

Book Online HERE

Join us to celebrate recent contributions to the field of graphic design history, which seek to shake established narratives to expand the design canon. Our panel of speakers will share their thoughts on the imperative to reconsider women’s depiction in received design histories, and will highlight some past and present contributions by women to the fields of type, graphic design and publishing. The evening will also feature the launch of an exciting new website comprising a visualisation of the findings of the 'Women in Type’ Leverhulme Trust funded project.

Invited Guest Speakers:-

Martha Scotford
‘Research and Distribution: What Worked for Me’

Briar Levit
‘Reorienting Approaches to Disseminating Design Histories’

Rathna Ramanathan
‘Tara Books: Working with Marginalised Voices Across Cultures’

‘Women in Type’ project speakers:-
Fiona Ross, Alice Savoie & Mathieu Triay
‘Women in Type: highlighting the contribution of women to type history

Briar Levit is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Portland State University. She studied at San Francisco State University for her undergraduate degree in graphic design and at Central Saint Martins for her MA in Communication Design. Levit spent her early career in publishing as Art Director of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture magazine as well as an independent book designer. Her self-initiated publications are walking books that challenge the existing hiking guide genre. More recently, Levit’s feature-length documentary, Graphic Means: A History of Graphic Design Production (2017) which follows design production from manual to digital methods, established an obsession with design history—particularly aspects not in the canon. She currently collaborates on The People’s Graphic Design Archive, a crowdsourced repository aimed at enabling new and expanded stories about graphic design history with Louise Sandhaus and Brockett Horne. She has just finished editing and designing a book of essays featuring the research of 14 designers and educators, debuting October 2021, entitled Baseline Shift: Previously Untold Stories of Women Throughout Graphic Design History.

Rathna Ramanathan is a typographer, researcher and educator known for her expertise in intercultural communication and alternative publishing practices. She is Dean of Academic Strategy at Central Saint Martins, London. For the past 20 years, Rathna has headed research-led, intercultural, multi-platform graphic communication design projects, all fuelled by a love for, and life-long interest in typography and language, and a belief that communication is a fundamental human right.

Fiona Ross specializes in type design and typography primarily for Arabic, South Asian, and Thai scripts, having a background in languages with a PhD in Indian Palaeography (SOAS). Fiona is Professor in Type Design (part-time) in the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. Fiona works as a consultant, type designer, author, and lecturer; her recent design work has been in collaboration with John Hudson and Neelakash Kshetrimayum for clients who include Ananda Bazar Patrika, Adobe, Monotype and Harvard University Press. For her work in type design and education Fiona received the SoTA Typography Award (2014) and the Type Director’s Club Medal (2018). She is currently running the Leverhulme-funded ‘Women in Type’ research project at the University of Reading.

Alice Savoie is an independent type designer and researcher based in France. She holds an MA and a PhD from the University of Reading (UK). As a practising type designer she has collaborated with international foundries and design studios. Her recent type design work includes Faune, an award-winning typeface family commissioned by the French Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Romain 20 (205.tf) and Lucette (Future Fonts). She is currently a post-doctoral researcher on the Leverhulme-funded ‘Women in Type’ research project at the University of Reading. She teaches typeface design at ANRT Nancy (France) and Ecal Lausanne (Switzerland).

Martha Scotford is Professor Emerita of Graphic Design at the College of Design, North Carolina State University, where she taught graphic design studio courses, typography and design history from 1981 to 2013. Two individual National Endowment for the Arts grants supported research in feminist design, resulting in Cipe Pineles: A Life of Design (WW Norton, 1999). She collaborated on Verbal and Visual Translation of Mayakovsky's and Lissitzky's 'For Reading Out Loud,' original Russian facsimile, plus English version and scholarly essays (British Library, 2000). As a Fulbright lecturer in India in 2001, she taught at four Indian design schools. Scotford curated a 2013 exhibition of Ernst Reichl’s book designs at the Rare Books and Manuscript Library of Columbia University (NY) (www.ernstreichl.org). She has published articles in Print, Eye, Design Issues, Visible Language, and AIGA Journal of Graphic Design about women in design, avant garde typography, and design in India. Scotford is a graduate of Oberlin College (BA Art History) and Yale University (BFA, MFA Graphic Design). For more about her research and teaching: www.marthascotford.org.

Mathieu Triay is a Principal Software Engineer at BBC R&D working on a range of things from the future of news to multi-device interaction design. On the side he runs a small creative practice producing websites, fonts and a literary magazine called Visions.







In collaboration with the Centre for Book Cultures and Publishing, UoR.