New book: ‘Woodcuts as Reading Guides.’

This book applies information design to the understanding of woodcuts. Free download.

This book applies insights from information design to the interpretation of images in woodcut-illustrations.

The study by Andrea van Leerdam shows how woodcuts in vernacular books on medicine and astrology fulfilled important rhetorical functions in knowledge communication. These images guide readers’ perceptions of the organisation, visualisation, and reliability of knowledge.

From the introduction: ‘I draw on ideas on visual rhetoric from the field of information design studies, as outlined below. This field shares with book history the foundational assumption that materiality affects meaning. Choices in design always reflect assumptions held implicitly or explicitly by the designers on how a message can be conveyed effectively.’

Page 35: ‘Ideas from information design studies contribute to a more systematic understanding of the concept. The practical outlook of this field – which design solutions work well under what circumstances, and why? – is instrumental for book historians to work the other way around, as we might say: to reconstruct the possible ways in which early modern book design made meaning.’

Webpage: Amsterdam University Press.

Price: Free download / open access.