Academy Meets the Street: Radical Journal Design and The Black Scholar
with Amy Papaelias, Jessica Barness
This lecture explores the visual and printed history of a radical academic journal launched after the ’68–’69 SF State student strikes.
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.
Amy Papaelias is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at SUNY New Paltz. Her research focuses on the intersection of typography, technology, and culture.
Jessica Barness is a Professor in the School of Visual Communication Design at Kent State University. Her research focuses on the dynamics of design discourse, interactive platforms, and critical practices of design research.
Together, their ongoing collaborative research project, What Scholarship Looks Like, explores the visual design of academic journals across disciplines and the impact of journal design on academic culture. They co-edited the special issue of Visible Language, Critical Making: Design and the Digital Humanities (49.3, 2015), which received the 2017 Design Incubation Communication Design Educators Award for Published Research. They have presented their work at College Art Association Conference (2020), American Printing History Association Conference (2019), and the AIGA Design Educators Conference (2018) and have published articles in She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation (2021), Visual Anthropology Review (2021), and Sciences du Design (2019).