Hot Metal / Precarious Printers

The world of work is tightly entwined with the world of things. Hot Metal emerged as a book project from my PhD thesis, Precarious Printers (UTS Design 2014). The project illuminates connections between design, material culture and labour between the 1960s and the 1980s, when the traditional crafts of hot-metal typesetting and letterpress were finally made obsolete with the introduction of computerised technologies. This multidisciplinary history provides an evocative rendering of design culture by exploring an intriguing case: a doggedly traditional Government Printing Office in Australia. It explores the struggles experienced by printers as they engaged in technological retraining, shortly before facing factory closure. Topics explored include spatial memory within oral history, gender-labour tensions, the rise of neoliberalism and the secret making of objects ‘on the side’.


Project Publications81A7fbZ2lNL

Stein, JA 2016, Hot Metal: Material Culture & Tangible Labour, Manchester University Press, Manchester.

Stein, JA 2016, ‘Masculinity and material culture in technological transitions in the workplace: From letterpress to offset-lithography, 1960s – 1980s’Technology & Culture, vol. 57, no. 1, pp. 24–53. DOI: 10.1353/tech.2016.0010.

Stein, JA 2015, ‘Making “foreign orders”: Australian print-workers and clandestine creative production in the 1980s’Journal of Design History, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 275-92. DOI: 10.1093/jdh/epv012.

Stein, JA 2014, ‘The co-construction of spatial memory: Enriching architectural histories of “ordinary” buildings’Fabrications, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 178-97. DOI: 1080/10331867.2014.961222.

Stein, JA, 2014, Precarious Printers: Labour, Technology & Material Culture at the NSW Government Printing Office, 1959–1989PhD Thesis, School of Design, Faculty of Design, Architecture & Building, University of Technology Sydney. Supervisor: Dist. Prof. Peter McNeil, Dr Susan Stewart.

Stein, JA 2013, ‘“That was a posed photo”: Reflections on the process of combining oral histories with institutional photographs’Oral History Association of Australia Journal, vol. 35, pp. 49–57.

Stein, JA 2013, ‘Frank confessions from an oral history newcomer’, Voiceprint 49 (October), pp. 10-13.


Conference papers / public talks / panels

Stein, JA, 2017, ‘Fuzzy Pixels, Aesthetics and Avoiding Nostalgia’, Law and History: The Archives, Ethics and Aesthetics Symposium, UTS Law School, 18 March.

2017, ‘Oral Histories of Work’, panellist w/ Professor Maryanne Dever, Kylie Andrews, Professor Paula Hamilton, Australian Centre for Public History, UTS, 2 March.

2014, ‘Hearing your Community’s Voice: Creating an Oral History Project’, panellist, Oral History NSW, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, 5 April.

Stein, JA 2013, ‘Picturing the Guv: reflections on the process of combining oral histories with institutional photographs’, conference paper, SA State History Conference / Oral History Association of Australia Biannual Conference, Adelaide, 22 September.

2013, ‘Pictures, Pranks and Printers: Unofficial Creative Practice at the NSW Government Printing Office, 1959-1989’, public lecture for History Week 2013, History Council of NSW, 7 September. Also included as a History Week 2013 video.

Stein, JA 2012, ‘Weighty matters in the shift from letterpress to offset-lithography: Gender, design, & tradition at a Government Printing Office’, conference paper, Gender, Bodies & Technology, Virginia Tech University, 27 April.