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date: 10 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay considers public reading—the act of reading, performed in public, of public notices, inscriptions, labels, banners, and advertisements, which makes the experience of modern life a state of incessant address. Examples are taken from Dickens’s Bleak House and Joyce’s Ulysses, with particular attention being paid to the treatment given to advertising through skywriting in Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. Many of the forms of public inscription or announcement borrow or blend with forms of mechanical motion, which is anticipated in the device known as “The Readies” invented by Bob Brown in the early 1930s. The essay concludes with a discussion of the growing expressiveness of and sensitivity to typefaces, especially in the psychotypographic force possessed by capital letters.

Keywords: skywriting, public, Dickens, Joyce, Woolf, Bob Brown, The Readies, typeface, capital letters

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