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Grant number like: FO-268654-20

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Raja Adal
University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA 15260-6133)

Fellowships for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan
Research Programs

$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2021 – 12/31/2021

The Typewriter and the History of Writing Technologies in Japan

Research and writing leading to a book on the history of the typewriter in Japan.

Today, writing is undergoing revolutionary transformations. Letters are increasingly rare while emails, posts, and tweets are growing more common; writing is de-territorialized, produced anywhere in the world including by non-human bots; and the consumption of written texts is often supplanted by other media like video. This project suggests that the improbable success of the Chinese-character typewriter in Japan can help us understand the current transformations in writing. It argues that the Chinese-character typewriter in Japan was successful not because it made writing faster but because it transformed the production, consumption, and circulation of written texts, bringing women into the office, redefining literacy, and enabling the circulation of multiple carbon copies of a document.