CS 100B INTRODUCTION TO MEDIAHISTORY
Dr. Martin Morris
The Print Revolution
Lewis Mumford, “The Invention of Printing”
o Printing begins in art—only later that interest in the word leads to this most amazing
invention: movable type
o movable type is the original model of the standardized, replaceable part
o the handwrought manuscript was a work of art—but this mode of production limited the
circulation of books
o What were the gains of printing?
—sacrifices for gains: an evaluation of print over script [gain a freedom for authors.
Increasing inforthtion athut world. Most people especially living in village, did not
travel out in 18 and 19 century. The transportation is walking, Even reading available,
writing cannot be transported. The access of printing words expanded the world.]
“Only now that we are falling back into a state of vacuous illiteracy, through the
overdevelopment of radio and television, can we realize on what a low level of abstraction we
should live without the benefit of the printed word.”
What does this statement mean?
To what does the emphasis in this quote on ‘levels’ of abstraction refer? How does this
emphasis on levels of abstraction of living express the changes in media technology?
[how does the use of media change ways people think and what they think about.]
Elizabeth Eisenstein, “The Rise of the Reading Public”
o Print ‘revolution’?
— the complexities of the transition from script to print—not a ‘uniform’ process
— the weakening of local community ties.
— Changing sense of what it meant to participate in public affairs
— Fostering individualism
1 o But : “Even while communal solidarity was diminished, vicarious participation in more
distant events was also enhanced; and even while local ties were loosened, links to larger
collective units were being forged.”
— for example, the ‘personal’ presence of rulers in people’s homes via mass produced
prints and engravings that could be framed, hung on walls, etc.
o Propaganda wars assisted by print media by European rulers in the 17 and 18 centuries
—print media quickly adopted by the state for dissemination of policy and ‘public
Harvey Graff, “Early Modern Literacies”
o Ecclesiastical reform movements were the central cause of the Reformation, which was
triggered by the "publication" of Martin Luther's ninetyfive theses in 1518
o Political impact of reformers
o Two of the most significant communication developments of the Reformation were the
contribution of the printing press and the use of vernacular speech in print.
o The printing press prepared the coming of the Reformation
o The availability of printed matter did not cause an increase in literacy, but it set the stage for
it, so to speak.
o Colporteurs and book peddlers carried Reformation propaganda—along with all sorts of
other printed matter—into the countryside.
o Luther continued his translation of the Bible into German, and it was a great success.
o Main point : the use of the printing press was not determined in advance—its introduction did
not simply produce ‘progress’ but had contradictory effects on the European societies.
o Importance of the vernacular Bible
o Conflict between Catholicism and Protestantism played out in the Ca