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Thinking About the “Common Reader:” Otto Neurath, L. Susan Stebbing and the (Modern) Picture-Text Style

  • Silke KörberEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 336)

Abstract

When Otto Neurath went into exile in 1934, first to Holland and then to England, he succeeded in establishing important new connections within the context of the international Unity of Science movement, for which he was largely responsible. A notable example was the British philosopher L. Susan Stebbing, who supported his pragmatic ideas on the “humanization” of knowledge. Both Neurath and Stebbing were looking for ways to apply modern logic and linguistic analysis, not only to the transfer of information in science and teaching, but above all in publication projects for the “common reader.” In 1941, Stebbing became the first president of the Isotype Institute in Oxford, which Neurath directed until 1945. Soon after ISOTYPE was founded, long-term relations began between it and the book-packaging company Adprint managed by German-speaking emigrés in London, as well as its successors and British clients (publishers). A technically and organizationally sophisticated process for the production of illustrated non-fiction books was gradually established. The “picture-text style” developed by Neurath and epitomized in Modern Man in the Making (1939) was applied to non-fiction books and series with “integrated layouts,” then professionalized and successively transformed into a production model for illustrated books which enabled scientific information to be prepared for the mass market and the “common reader” – in the service of a modern, democratic (post-war) society.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This article is the result of an ongoing doctoral research project at the Department of Philosophy, Humboldt-University zu Berlin, which was supported by scholarships from the German Historical Institute in London and Washington, DC, and an Elsa-Neumann-Scholarship.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Philosophy, Doctoral CandidateHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany

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