By Alexandra Jacobs
May 23, 1997 at 04:00 AM EDT

Handwriting in America

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  • Book
Genre

Good penmanship used to matter. Why it no longer does (computers, duh!) — why illegibility now as likely implies genius as illiteracy — are fleeting concerns of the undidactic Professor Tama Plakins Thornton. She’s more interested in airing handwriting’s anti-lefty, sexist history in Handwriting in America: Victorian ladies learned a filigreed, ornamental hand, while men, as the author archly puts it, formed characters. And she notes its freaky politics: The Palmer method’s tortured postures and crisply uniform cursive were used to ”discipline” early-20th-century immigrant pupils. Most intriguingly traced is the belief that one’s script reveals one’s self (graphology beats astrology in some circles). And, not incidentally, the reasons why some of us get all foolish over fountain pens. A-

Handwriting in America

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