MIT 2000 Third Lecture on Print Culture, Early Newspapers, Censorship

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Media, Information and Technoculture
Media, Information and Technoculture 2000F/G
Daniel Robinson

Lecture 3: September 27, 2011 Print/Modes of Reading - Individualism - Dangers of Private Reading - Mobile Reading - Cell phone, just reading a book outside or something. - Silent/Vocalized Reading - Silent reading becomes more prevalent. but does not eclipse vocalized reading. There’s still vocal reading in family circles, reading newspapers aloud at the kitchen table. - Tendency to associate silent reading with middle/upper classes and associate vocalized reading with the working/lower class. Part of this reflects the fact that there’s higher rates of literacy in the upper classes so lower classes have to listen to writing because they can’t read it. - Reading aloud marks you as being from a lower class. - Unsupervised reading could be bad, you can’t moniter what people are reading - Critical Reading - becomes more common after the 1500’s - Intensive to Extensive Reading - Intensively reading the Bible - With a few books available to you, you read them multiple times and intensively. - Books became more abundant. People are skimming, browsing more after the 1500’s. Reading selectively. - Format Changes - Table of Contents introduced that facilitates skipping to chapters, finding a favourite part. - Indexes start to appear so you can look up specific things. - Breaking the book up into smaller bits with Chapters. Women Readers - Fear unleashes emotions - Fear that women wouldn’t be able to control their emotions. Novels were seen as a challenge for women to a dangerous degree. - Argue that women shouldn’t be aloud to read unless they receive love letters. - Reading will open women up too much. - Bible/devotional works were seen as being the things that women should read. - Challenge to patriarchal authority - Media that challenges authority: - video games (kids against parents), cinema (people gathering together sitting in a theater was seen as a challenge), Facebook (causing romantic drama, cheating, connecting with exes undermines religious authority) Newspapers (challenge political authority Reformation/Printing (1520-1640) - Printing press not casual - Printing Press invented 70 years before the Reformation starts. You can’t make automatic casual relationship between the printing press and the Reformation. - But the printing press was very influential. The R was a propaganda and military campaign. About spreading the word, spreading info. The ability to spread info was good. Posters, leaflets, etc. Not just something that was going to literate people. - Variety of Printed Matter - Information Supply, not advance literacy - Illiterates new ideas - Posters, leaflets used imagery to evoke ideas for illiterate people - Vernacular Bible - Catholic Church only allowed Bible to be produced in Latin. But the people of the Reformation thought it should be available in the language that people speak. This becomes easier to do with the advent of printing. - The Church did relent, but it only happened where there was lots of conflict between the Protestants and Catholics. There was a propaganda war. - Within the Protestant Doctrine Bible Reading was linked to Personal Salvation. - Less so in the Catholic Church. - Incentive towards literacy so literacy rates go higher in Protestant Countries (England, Switzerland, Netherlands) - Very much a campaign about ideas. Printing Press enabled this. Printing these materials meant you could produce thousands of things. - Counter-Reformation Censorship - Catholic Church published Index of Prohibited Books - Books linked to Protestant theology, but even books that weren’t religious. Erasmus, Machiavelli and Dante among those prohibited. Seen as heretical, immoral, magical. - You could be burned alive if found in posession of these texts. - In the 1550’s in England the State Government proposed its own censorship: The Stationer’s Co. - They would have to inspect manuscripts before they would be printed/mass produced Censorship Effects - Interest in banned titles - Once you censor something, you awaken interest in it. Catcher in the Rye was banned in schools and thus became one of the most well read books for people under 20. Harry Potter banned from some schools for promoting Satanic tendencies… Looking For Alaska - Clandestine Publishing and Communication - Publishing anonymously or under a pseudonym. - Printing Abroad - If there’s a strict printing regime in France but not in Switzerland, people moved to publishing in Switzerland and got it to France through underground means. - Netherlands and Switzerland became publishing meccas when other countries around them became much more restrictive; N and S were much more liberal. - Allegory - Avatar and Allegory: the environment segregation theme, european colonization of aboriginal peoples in the americas. - In some ways Avatar is an allegory about us, our own past and our orientation to our environment. - If James Cameron had made a movie about the exploitation of natural resources, it would not have been so successful. Choosing allegory got him farther. - He could say potential controversial themes through allegory. - Arthur Miller “The Crucible” about the Salem Witch trials, but it’s arguable about McCarthy-ism in the 1950’s, an attack on people for their political views - Shakespear “Richard II” is arguable about Elizabeth not being able to bear a child and the current political times. Allegorically he uses a different character, uses a different time. - Animal Farm by George Orwell uses animals instead of people Print Culture - Fixity of Texts - No more problems with unreadable handwriting, spelling mistakes - Selling point - Accumulation of Knowledge and Destabilize Knowledge - Print allows for a huge growth of knowledge, more libraries, more things to read. BUt at the same time it destabilizes that knowledge. It makes that knowledge a bit more
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