South Asian Types

Course Information

Instructor: Fiona Ross & Vaibhav Singh
Location: Online
Dates: August 7–11, 2023
Tuition: $1200.00


This course will offer an overview of the history of printing and type design for South Asian scripts from the 18th to the 21st century. Focusing mainly on three scripts from the Indian subcontinent, namely Devanagari, Bengali, and Tamil, the course will introduce participants to the history of design and technology for printing in the languages of South Asia. It will also offer ‘virtual hands-on’ engagement with some of the processes involved in the making of printed artefacts, examining their history across changing cultural and technological backdrops. The course will focus on typographic printing and situate the design and production of type in the South Asian context through an in-depth engagement with letterforms and their graphic characteristics. We will look at different design processes, various manual and mechanical composing systems for syllabic scripts, and technological developments spanning foundry types, hot-metal, film-setting, and digital typefaces that have shaped the visual and material form of the printed word in South Asia. The course will help participants develop a broad understanding of the three different writing-systems covered, with their respective typographic histories, and also to explore the application of typographic knowledge towards various bibliographic purposes such as identification, authentication, comparative analysis etc. 

This course is intended for anyone interested in the history of printing, technology, and typography in South Asia. Attendees knowledgeable in other book cultures or those interested in comparative contexts of print are also welcome. Course materials will be in English and prior knowledge of the languages and scripts of South Asia is not required. 





Completion of this course helps to meet requirements for one of the following certificate requirements:

  • 1 of 3 elective credit courses for Certificate in Rare Books and Manuscripts, or
  • 1 of 2 elective credit courses for Certificate in Librarianship, Activism, and Justice