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Staff Picks: Books

The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting

I clearly remember learning penmanship in the early grades at my elementary school. We first were taught manuscript printing and then graduated to writing in cursive. I tried so hard to make my letters look like they did in our instruction books and on green placards the teacher had put up over the blackboard, succeeding at least some of the time. Fast forward to 2017. I have reverted to using manuscript printing a lot of the time, or at most, a hybrid of manuscript and cursive. The only time I use cursive exclusively is to sign my name on my checks, and I don’t even write that many of them anymore. What precipitated all this reflection is a 2016 book by Anne Trubek which is about ‘the history and uncertain future of handwriting.’ She says, ‘The future of handwriting is anything but certain. Its history, however, shows how much it has affected culture and civilization for millennia.’ This book is panoramic, tracing the story of handwriting from earliest times all the way down to the digital age when keyboarding in the form of texting, e-mailing and social media is so prevalent. Ms. Trubek maintains that there are artistic aspects of handwriting that need to be preserved, such as in calligraphy, but the loss of handwriting’s prominence will also ‘give rise to changes—in accessibility, in democratization, in advantages unimaginable to us now—that should be celebrated.’



The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting

(Books, History, Nonfiction) Permanent link

I clearly remember learning penmanship in the early grades at my elementary school. We first were taught manuscript printing and then graduated to writing in cursive. I tried so hard to make my letters look like they did in our instruction books and on green placards the teacher had put up over the blackboard, succeeding at least some of the time. Fast forward to 2017. I have reverted to using manuscript printing a lot of the time, or at most, a hybrid of manuscript and cursive. The only time I use cursive exclusively is to sign my name on my checks, and I don’t even write that many of them anymore. What precipitated all this reflection is a 2016 book by Anne Trubek which is about ‘the history and uncertain future of handwriting.’ She says, ‘The future of handwriting is anything but certain. Its history, however, shows how much it has affected culture and civilization for millennia.’ This book is panoramic, tracing the story of handwriting from earliest times all the way down to the digital age when keyboarding in the form of texting, e-mailing and social media is so prevalent. Ms. Trubek maintains that there are artistic aspects of handwriting that need to be preserved, such as in calligraphy, but the loss of handwriting’s prominence will also ‘give rise to changes—in accessibility, in democratization, in advantages unimaginable to us now—that should be celebrated.’

Posted by David DeVries at 04/06/2017 06:47:21 PM