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Academy Meets the Street: Radical Journal Design and The Black Scholar

Letterform Archive

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The Black Scholar: Journal of Black Studies and Research, launched in 1969 and first printed by Graphic Arts of Marin, was a self-proclaimed radical academic journal dedicating itself to “uniting the academy and the street” in the growing discipline of Black Studies. In this lecture, we discuss the journal’s visual and printed history, with a broad examination of the term “radical scholarship” and its relationship to the publishing and design of new academic journals.

Further, we will look at twentieth-century intellectual periodicals to contextualize the early visual design and mission of The Black Scholar, which remains a leading publication in the discipline. By studying the journal’s unique collaborations between the editors, contributors, and printers, we explore how the design of scholarly journals helps legitimize emerging disciplines and create a distinctive visual language of their own.​​

Letterform Lectures are a public aspect of the Type West postgraduate program. The series is co-presented by the San Francisco Public Library, where events are free and open to all.