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The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting
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Bloomsbury Publishing 2016
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"Persuasively argues that our fixation with writing by hand is driven more by emotion than evidence, as it is perceived to be inextricably linked to our history, core values and individual identities."—Los Angeles Times

The future of handwriting is anything but certain. Its history, however, shows how much it has affected culture and civilization for millennia.

In the digital age of instant communication, handwriting is less necessary than ever before, and indeed fewer and fewer schoolchildren are being taught how to write in cursive. Signatures—far from John Hancock's elegant model—have become scrawls. In her recent and widely discussed and debated essays, Anne Trubek argues that the decline and even elimination of handwriting from daily life does not signal a decline in civilization, but rather the next stage in the evolution of communication.
Now, in The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, Trubek uncovers the long and significant impact handwriting has had on culture and humanity—from the first recorded handwriting on the clay tablets of the Sumerians some four thousand years ago and the invention of the alphabet as we know it, to the rising value of handwritten manuscripts today. Each innovation over the millennia has threatened existing standards and entrenched interests: Indeed, in ancient Athens, Socrates and his followers decried the very use of handwriting, claiming memory would be destroyed; while Gutenberg's printing press ultimately overturned the livelihood of the monks who created books in the pre-printing era. And yet new methods of writing and communication have always appeared. Establishing a novel link between our deep past and emerging future, Anne Trubek offers a colorful lens through which to view our shared social experience.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
09/06/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781620402160
ASIN:
B01ET4U6XI

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APA Citation (style guide)

Anne Trubek. (2016). The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Anne Trubek. 2016. The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Anne Trubek, The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Anne Trubek. The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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fullDescription
"Persuasively argues that our fixation with writing by hand is driven more by emotion than evidence, as it is perceived to be inextricably linked to our history, core values and individual identities."—Los Angeles Times

The future of handwriting is anything but certain. Its history, however, shows how much it has affected culture and civilization for millennia.

In the digital age of instant communication, handwriting is less necessary than ever before, and indeed fewer and fewer schoolchildren are being taught how to write in cursive. Signatures—far from John Hancock's elegant model—have become scrawls. In her recent and widely discussed and debated essays, Anne Trubek argues that the decline and even elimination of handwriting from daily life does not signal a decline in civilization, but rather the next stage in the evolution of communication.
Now, in The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, Trubek uncovers the long and significant impact handwriting has had on culture and humanity—from the first recorded handwriting on the clay tablets of the Sumerians some four thousand years ago and the invention of the alphabet as we know it, to the rising value of handwritten manuscripts today. Each innovation over the millennia has threatened existing standards and entrenched interests: Indeed, in ancient Athens, Socrates and his followers decried the very use of handwriting, claiming memory would be destroyed; while Gutenberg's printing press ultimately overturned the livelihood of the monks who created books in the pre-printing era. And yet new methods of writing and communication have always appeared. Establishing a novel link between our deep past and emerging future, Anne Trubek offers a colorful lens through which to view our shared social experience.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Boston Globe
      • content: As Anne Trubek makes clear in this slim but eloquent volume, handwriting has always been about more than simply words on paper . . . Trubek's book is thoroughly engaging and filled with odd, even moving facts.
      • premium: False
      • source: Wall Street Journal
      • content: Ms. Trubek unearths some captivating sidelights in the history of handwriting.
      • premium: False
      • source: Inside Higher Ed
      • content: Anne Trubek covers a great deal of interesting ground in The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting . . . Trubek's history of handwriting is a story of metamorphosis, not of decline.
      • premium: False
      • source: Los Angeles Times
      • content: Well-researched . . . [Trubek] persuasively argues that our fixation with writing by hand is driven more by emotion than evidence, as it is perceived to be inextricably linked to our history, core values and individual identities.
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: A succinct overview of written communication . . . Trubek believes that change offers opportunities 'in accessibility, in democratization . . . that should be celebrated.' Quirky facts enliven a brisk story of the history of handwriting.
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: Thoroughly enjoyable. . . delightful history [ending] with the conclusion that handwriting will not vanish but perhaps, like letterpress printing, become a fine art.
      • premium: False
      • source: Shelf Awareness
      • content: [Trubek] considers the political and social implications inherent in who learned to write, what they recorded and the scripts they used . . . Trubek never loses sight of the fact that handwriting is a controversial subject today. Throughout her history, she offers amusing and insightful comparisons between past and present, preparing the reader for a final discussion of the future of handwriting. The result is a light-handed and thoughtful account of a complicated subject.
      • premium: False
      • source: Wall Street Journal on A SKEPTIC'S GUIDE TO WRITERS' HOUSES
      • content: Ms. Trubek is a bewitching and witty travel partner.
      • premium: False
      • source: Chicago Tribune on A SKEPTIC'S GUIDE TO WRITERS' HOUSES
      • content: A slim, clever bit of literary criticism masquerading as smart travel writing.
      • premium: False
      • source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune on A SKEPTIC'S GUIDE TO WRITERS' HOUSES
      • content: A blazingly intelligent romp, full of humor and hard-won wisdom...[Trubek] crisscrosses the country in search of epiphanies on the doorsteps of some of our more important writers.
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        May 23, 2016
        What does the future hold for the oldest analog communication technology: writing by hand? Do we really need it? Trubek, publisher of Belt Magazine, explores these questions in a thoroughly enjoyable slim volume that begins with scratches on clay tablets and ends with National Handwriting Day, which is celebrated every January 23, the birthday of John Hancock, the man who signed his name so dramatically on the Declaration of Independence. Ancient Sumerian writing was limited to records and ceremony. Literacy became essential to a cultured person in ancient Greece with the invention of the modern alphabet, but not everyone welcomed it. Socrates believed that writing made men stupid by eliminating memory: “If you ask a piece of writing a question, it remains silent.” Trubek emphasizes that every revolution in written communication produces similar complaints: printed books were seen as fit only for the less educated, and now some believe that typing and email rob us of the individuality and intimacy of handwritten letters. Additionally she also explores the various ways handwriting has been linked to personal character. Trubek ends her delightful history with the conclusion that handwriting will not vanish but perhaps, like letterpress printing, become a fine art.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        June 15, 2016

        Beginning with hieroglyphs, cuneiform, and the invention of the alphabet, Trubek (A Skeptic's Guide to Writer's Houses) shows the impact of handwriting throughout history. Maintaining that handwriting is the latest form of the ongoing evolution of human communication, the author thoroughly discusses the various types of scripts, the contexts in which they have been used, and their role as prestige indicators. Also explored are employment opportunities in the field of handwriting, such as scribes, secretaries, and penmanship instructors. Trubek briefly profiles prominent figures in the profession, such as Platt Rogers Spencer and Austin Norman Palmer, while touching upon technological changes that have impacted the field (e.g., the printing press, typewriters). The advent of handwriting analysis as a modern-day discipline, including graphology, stylometrics, and forensic analysis is also investigated. Trubek concludes by asserting that current fears regarding the replacement of this practice by typing are misplaced. The only downside is that the short length of the volume disappointingly allows for only a cursory look at each topic. VERDICT An absorbing and concise book that will engage readers who are curious about communications.--Rebekah Kati, Durham, NC

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        June 1, 2016
        A succinct overview of written communication.Belt magazine editor-in-chief Trubek (A Skeptic's Guide to Writers' Houses, 2010) turns from house museums of famous writers to the act of writing itself, tracing its history from cuneiform to digital messages. Observing a second-grader practicing penmanship in school, she remarks, "the prospect of not teaching students handwriting strikes many as unimaginable." However, notes the author optimistically, "new technologies do not kill off previous ones. Writing did not kill speech, but speaking took on new valences as writing came to compete with it." Readers may wonder at the idea that speaking is a technology and also at Trubek's easy acceptance of Socrates' notion that writing "caused humans to become less intelligent, less civilized, and less creative" and "decreases the human capacity to remember, to mentally retain and file facts, ideas, and experiences for later recall." She gives no supporting evidence for these assertions. Despite privileging orality, the Greeks invented the first alphabet to contain both consonants and vowels and wrote by running words together in unpunctuated paragraphs. The Romans created the letters we now use and invented books. Medieval scribes, usually from poor families, labored intensely to produce multiple copies of religious tracts. Gradually, secular scribes created books for schools and universities, traveling across Europe selling their services. Trubek discovered that handwriting varied dramatically from region to region, making it difficult for contemporary scholars to read manuscripts. The field of paleography emerged, with specialists trained to decipher different scripts. After the invention of the printing press, many former scribes became successful penmanship masters. In the 19th century, A.N. Palmer invented "an efficient, simple style" widely taught in schools. Typewriters' idiosyncratic letter arrangement was designed to prevent type bars from sticking together when struck sequentially. Although keyboarding competes with handwriting, Trubek believes that change offers opportunities "in accessibility, in democratization...that should be celebrated." Quirky facts enliven a brisk story of the history of handwriting.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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"Persuasively argues that our fixation with writing by hand is driven more by emotion than evidence, as it is perceived to be inextricably linked to our history, core values and individual identities."—Los Angeles Times

The future of handwriting is anything but certain. Its history, however, shows how much it has affected culture and civilization for millennia.

In the digital age of instant communication, handwriting is less necessary than ever before, and indeed fewer and fewer schoolchildren are being taught how to write in cursive. Signatures—far from John Hancock's elegant model—have become scrawls. In her recent and widely discussed and debated essays, Anne Trubek argues that the decline and even elimination of handwriting from daily life does not signal a decline in civilization, but rather the next stage in the evolution of communication.
Now, in The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, Trubek...
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