Designing English? Yes, designing

By Anthony Haynes

March 29, 2018

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Category: Beyond publishing, Design

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There are various things we commonly do with English — read it, write it, study it. We don’t often talk of designing it.

Designing English is the intriguing title of an exhibition that I stumbled across in the Weston Library in Oxford’s Broad Street.

Curated by a professor — Daniel Wakelin — in Oxford’s English Faculty, it’s an absorbing show, full of surprises. I thought it would be all bibles and poetry, but in fact there’s a great variety of handwritten texts on display, all from the Bodleian I believe. The texts include practical manuals, accounts books, scientific and medical books, and books for performance and reading aloud.

Overall, I found the exhibition large enough to exhibit variety and small enough to be manageable.

Academics are often defensive about policy-makers’ desire for research to have an impact outside academia, but this exhibition is a great example of how to make scholarship accessible to the public.

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