Typecasting: On the Arts and Sciences of Human Inequality. By Elizabeth Ewen and Stuart Ewen

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

Winter 2007

Journal Title or Book Title

Journal of Social History








Ewen and Ewen begin their fascinating exploration of stereotyping in Western culture by pointing out that "the link between media and stereotype" is embedded in the origin of the word (3). In 1794, the French printer Fermin Didot gave the name "stereotype" to an innovative printing process in which pages of handset type were transformed into papier mache molds. In "cookie cutter" fashion, the molds were used to generate duplicate plates, enabling the production of multiple copies and elminating the need to set individual pieces of type for each printing press. How convenient to have access to a simiple form ( and a rigid one, in the case of a metal plate) that could do away with the bother of having to pay attention to individual details! In face, the prefix stereos is rooted in the Greek meaning "solid, hard, or fixed," which aptly describes the intractability of stereotypical beliefs.

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