Communication and Media Studies chair makes presentation in Oxford

Dr. Jack Hillwig, professor and chairman of the Department of Communication and Media Studies at Marietta College, recently made a presentation on book design and chaired two discussion sessions on books at the Third International Conference on the Book held at Oxford Brookes University in Oxford, England.

The conference, which was held from Sept. 11-13, addressed a range of critically important themes related to the past, present and future of book publishing. Speakers included prominent thinkers and innovators in the areas of publishing, editing, librarianship, printing, authorship and information technologies, as well as numerous presentations by researchers and practitioners.

Hillwig's presentation, titled "The Visual Generation, Where Book Design is as Important as Content: Why design Matters," focused on an examination of design research as it applies to the 18-29 generation, as well as a look at innovative uses of design in non-fiction books.

"A great deal of the recent research shows that the 18-29 generation are scanners of information and are not attracted to the simple presentation of black type on a white page," Hillwig said. "And as a result, publishers of all types of non-fiction books from philosophy books to business books to even religious texts are looking at design, particularly design through color, size, boldness, texture and shape, as a way to draw in this group."

Hillwig also chaired two conference "talking circles" on "Books: Writing and Reading." These were sessions in which interested groups generated ideas related to the various conference themes.

"Sitting around with groups of international publishers, authors and educators talking about common problems and attempting solutions to those problems was really a stimulating and innovative way to examine the incredible need to keep every generation a generation of readers," Hillwig said. "It was incredible and humbling to sometimes be a catalyst for these types of ideas."

More than 300 people from around the world attended the conference. Hillwig had previously spoken at the First International Conference on the Book, held in Cairns, Australia in 2003.

During his 25 years as an educator, Hillwig has consistently taught in the areas of publication design, visual journalism, writing and editing. He has worked as a photojournalist, newspaper reporter and editor, freelance writer and screenwriter. His research has consistently focused on the relationships between visual journalism, design and writing.

Oxford Brookes University was founded in 1765, and is only a few miles from the better-known Oxford University, whose founding dates back to 1249.