God is the Word and the Word is God

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The tradition of Protestant word-based worship in relation to a Protestant typo/graphic aesthetic.This paper investigates the phenomenon of wayside gospel signs in the north of Ireland. The almost exclusively text-based nature of these visual artefacts has a strong vernacular tradition and deep roots in the iconoclastic ethos of the protestant reformation, in particular Calvinist doctrine. Noticeable for their lack of ‘design’ and similarity to rough and ready sign-writing and trade printing, the typography and lettering styles employed display characteristics of plainness and a lack of artifice that is revealing in terms of the ethos behind them. The research makes connections between theology and the visual sphere in reference to the sociological framework of habitus in understanding the role of religion in aspects of cultural practice in this region. Parallels are drawn with evidence of a more widespread acknowledgement of the role of religious ethos in defining a relationship to lettering and typo/graphic work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalFace Forward Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Reference text: 1 Ed Andrews, Religion in Wood: A Book of Shaker Furniture(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1966)

2 Max Weber is considered a founder of modern sociology and his seminal work helped established the causal relationship between faith and social consequence, first published in 1905, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Translated and Edited by Stephen Kalberg (London:Routledge, 2001)

3 Habitus is a sociological philosophy developed by Pierre Bordieu to explain cultural phenomena as a result of social context, The Field of Cultural Production, ed. Randal Johnson (Cambridge:Polity Press, 1993)
8, 29-32

4 Bill Rolston, Politics and Painting, Murals and conflict in Northern Ireland (New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press)1991

5 David Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s, (London: Routledge 1993) p 3-6

6 Communication in the Jewish Diaspora The Pre-Modern world, ed. Sophia Menache: (Leiden, Brill, 1996) p29

7 Graham Howes, The Art of the Sacred: An Introduction to the Aesthetics of Art and Belief (London I. B. Tauris, 2006) 2

8 Ibid., 2

9 David Brett, The Plain Style, 2nd ed.(Cambridge, Lutterworth, 2004) 39

10 Foundation entoen.nu, the Netherlands, trans. Marjan Fageddon
(Leidschendam, 2006-2016). Accessed November 23, 2015. url: http://www.entoen.nu/beeldenstorm/en

11 Howes, The Art of the Sacred, 4

12 Project Muse, w. Brown Patterson, (Baltimore, 2016) Accessed December 2, 2015. url: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/537451

13 Disruptive Technology is a term in widespread use since approx. 2012.
It encompasses the notion that rapid information technology advances disrupt prevailing business, social and cultural practices and is sometimes compared to the arrival of printing in 15th century Europe. http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/digital-mckinsey/our-insights/disruptive-technologies

14 John Knox, The History of the Reformation of Religion in Scotland, (Glasgow,Blackie & Fullarton, 1831) 209

15 Jonathan Bardon, The Plantation of Ulster, 2nd ed., (Dublin, Gill and MacMillan, 2012)
16 David Brett, The Plain Style

17 Ibid

18 International Encyclopedia of Economic Sociology, Ed. J.Becket (London, Routledge, 2005) 316

19 David Brett, The Plain Style, 64

20 Patrick Sundqvist, 55 Degrees North: Contemporary Scandinavian Graphic Design
(London, Laurence King 2002), 12

21 David Morgan, Protestants and Pictures: Religion, Visual Culture, and the Age of American Mass Production (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999 ) 14

22 Mari Hvattum, Christian Hermansen, Tracing Modernity: Manifestations of the Modern in Architecture and the City, (London, Routledge, 2004) 42

23 Jan Middendorp, Dutch Type, (Amsterdam, 010, 2004) 117

24 Eye: The International Review of Graphic Design, (London, Eye, 1998) Vol. 8, 29-32


  • Typography
  • habitus
  • aesthetic
  • religion
  • protestant
  • iconoclastic
  • design
  • culture


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