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Letterpress printing: past, present, future

Featuring key note lectures by Johanna Drucker, Will Hill, and Dafi Kühne, this this two-day conference explores the survival, legacy and relevance of letterpress printing in the digital era.

Registration now open. Click here to book your tickets: Day rate: £40; Full registration: £65; Full registration (student/unwaged): £50; Buffet dinner (Thursday 19th July): £20. (Booking is made via the University of Leeds)

Programme can be downloaded here.

During the twentieth century, printing changed from a craft-based to a technology-led process. The composing room moved from hand- to machine composition, from photo-setting to digital; while the press room shifted from letterpress to off-set lithography and latterly digital methods of production. Technical progress, however, failed to completely usurp traditional printing and today there is a marked increase in those engaged with older methods of production, whether for pleasure, profit, or scholarship.

For example, housed in the basement of the School of English at the University of Leeds, there is a range of letterpress machines and moveable type. Originally used to teach bibliography, this facility fell out of use as academic fashions changed. Today it has been resurrected by a new generation of scholars curious to practice craft techniques in order to enhance their understanding of the past.

Similarly, when the printing industry jettisoned letterpress in favour of contemporary technology, some of the equipment survived and was appropriated by artists as tools for creativity, or salvaged by museums as relics of the past. Some of this historic equipment was requisitioned by a new generation of printers keen to satisfy market demands for traditional printing and often used in tandem with contemporary techniques.

Letterpress Printing: Past, Present, Future brings together a wide range of scholars, printers, curators and artists to discuss letterpress printing in all its uses. It will be held at the University of Leeds, 19-20 July 2018.