Novel Design: Fran Ross' Oreo and the Signs of the City

Friday, October 4, 2019
4:15 PM - 6:00 PM (ET)
LUT LUT 200 Instruction and Events
Event Type
Hochberg, Rachel A

Novel Design: Fran Ross’s Oreo and the Signs of the City

Tea at 4:15pm, talk at 4:30pm 

Philadelphia novelist Fran Ross published one book in her lifetime, and it fell into obscurity almost as soon as it appeared. But Oreo (1974) has enjoyed something of a revival through its contemporary reprintings. With the help of laudatory prefaces by Danzy Senna (US edition) and Marlon James (UK edition), the new Oreo has confirmed Ross’s status as a trailblazer of literary satire. Yet while critics rush to give Ross her due, the fact that she designed her own book remains lost to history. This talk explains why Ross’s choices in typeface, typography, and illustration are critical to any reading of Oreo. In so doing, it makes a more general case for understanding the development of black postmodern satire in the 1970s as coextensive with novelists’ practical experiments in book design.

Kinohi Nishikawa is an assistant professor of English and African American Studies at Princeton University. He is the author of Street Players: Black Pulp Fiction and the Making of a Literary Underground (Chicago, 2018), as well as several essays on African American print and popular culture. Nishikawa is the convener of Princeton’s 2019-2020 faculty-graduate seminar “Black Design: History, Theory, and Practice.”


This event is free and open to the publick and is cosponsored by American Studies, the John B. Hurford '60 Center for the Arts and Humanities, and the Libraries. 

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