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Johanna Drucker

Introductory remarks by Daniel J. Slive

The 2010 APHA Awards Committee has nominated Johanna Drucker, prolific author and internationally recognized authority in the book arts, as the recipient of the APHA Individual Award. This award is intended to recognize “a distinguished contribution to the study, recording, preservation, or dissemination of printing history, in any specific area or in general terms.” In nominating Johanna Drucker, the committee cites her significant series of scholarly publications which have contributed to our study and understanding of the intellectual and aesthetic contexts of typography, the history of printing, and the book as object; her lectures and exhibitions; and her teaching.

Drucker’s important scholarly book publications include The Alphabetic Labyrinth: The Letters in History and Imagination (1995); The Century of Artists’ Books (1995, Second edition, 2004); Figuring the Word: Essays on Books, Writing, and Visual Poetics (1998); and The Visible Word: Experimental Typography and Modern Art (1994). In addition to these scholarly monographs, Drucker has published more than one hundred critical and scholarly articles concerning contemporary art, visual culture, graphic design, artists’ books, and the book. A selective listing of articles which focus on printing history and typography includes: “Graphical Readings and the Visual Aesthetics of Textuality” (2005/2006); “What is a Letter?” (in the volume Education of a Typographer (2004)); “Typographic Intelligence” (in Typographically Speaking: The Work of Matthew Carter (2002, reissue 2004)); “The Artist’s Book as Idea and Form” (2000); “Experimental Narrative and Artist’s Books” (1999); “Collaborative Ty/opography” (1999); “The Art of the Written Image” (1997); and “The Myth of the Democratic Multiple” (1997). Her contributions to the study and dissemination of printing history also include the publishing of book reviews and shorter pieces; participating on panels and in symposia; delivering scholarly and critical lectures (including APHA’s 2001 Lieberman Lecture); and curating exhibitions. Several of her works have been published for international distribution, with translations into Catalan, German, Greek, Italian, Spanish, and Turkish.

Complementing this prodigious activity, Drucker has also contributed to the understanding of printing history through her teaching. Since 2008 she has served as the inaugural Martin and Bernard Breslauer Professor in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA. From 1999 to 2008 at the University of Virginia she held the Robertson Chair in Media Studies and served as Professor, Department of English, and Director of Media Studies. She has also held positions at Purchase College, SUNY; Yale; Columbia; Harvard; and the University of Texas at Dallas.

In her publications, presentations, exhibitions, and teaching, Drucker has challenged and influenced the way in which scholars, students, curators, and practitioners of typography consider, understand, collect, and create. Her placement of letterforms and books within a larger cultural context — as worthy objects of serious intellectual, philosophical, and aesthetic concern and engagement — is an important contribution to printing history.

It is a pleasure to present this year’s American Printing History Association Individual Award to Johanna Drucker.


The awards were presented during the Annual Meeting of the American Printing History Association, on Saturday, January 30, 2010, New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York City.