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“Look!! Look!!! at This!!!!”: The Radical Typography of David Walker's Appeal

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020


From the first publication of David Walker's Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World in 1829 through its incorporation into the contemporary literary canon, readers have recognized it as a fiery indictment of slavery and of the contradictions in Christianity and in the United States' founding. Yet the striking typography of Walker's Appeal has become invisible in our critical focus on the text's relation to African American oratory and even in considerations of the pamphlet's significance in early black print culture. An analysis of this graphic text reveals how it materially registers Walker's impassioned voice and argument and how it visually directs readers to voice his call to the illiterate. Walker attempts to resolve the opposition of the spoken and the printed word by exploiting his text's typography.

Research Article
Copyright © Modern Language Association of America, 2011

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