CS315 Week 2 – January 13, 2014
- Burke video (on reserve at library)
- Eisenstein’s Printing Press as an Agent of Change:
o Studies were viewed as by and for disparate groups: typographers,
librarians and bibliographers, literary scholars, economists, social
- Eisentsteins refers favourably to French and British scholars (Steinberg)
- 500 years of Printing (Steinberg)
o Was most influential, now out of date…but…’populist’
- The history of printing is an integral part of the general history of
- Steinberg’s “best” sentence for Eisenstein
- Burke says everything changed, socially, culturally, economically, in
Western religion – because of the advent of the press.
- Burke provides a broad acknowledgement of the “revolution” Eisenstein
- But she was unhappy about how limited the acknowledgement was
- The press IS wonderful… but why?
- Eisenstein cites Steinberg:
o “Neither political, constitutional, ecclesiastical, and economic
events, nor sociological, philosophical, and literary movements can
be fully understood without taking into account the influence the
printing press…(continue once posted on MLS)
- Eisenstein points out that our mental habits changed because of the press
- Eisenstein says, while we have so much new text – we can’t tell how
human behavior has changed.
- Standardization: laws, language, production… but how does access
(overload) affect human behavior?
- She left out some enquiries about human behavior…
- > Behavior: Before mass printing, the illiterate were read to – out loud, the
literate read out loud, to themselves… but later, silently
- Before mass printing people often had to guess when they were born, or
what they owned – recall the inheritance’s scene in Printing Transforms
Knowledge: but they had different ways of remembering.
- > Difficulty for Eisenstein:
o We can’t assess printing without knowing what writing was before
the press i.e. in ‘scribal culture’.
- Eisenstein muses that: we can only conjecture about pre-literate life…but
she has a Western-oriented bias; - We observe surviving non-literate societies as sociologists,
anthropologists, and communication studies scholars (e.g. non-numerate
Brazilian tribe; Rom)
- Eisenstein and scarcity of MSS:
- > Few other MSS to compare with as copying going on
- Burke makes the same point when he refers to perpetuation of errors in
scriptoria – due to an original error
- Why so few MSS? Who read? How MSS created? What methods?
o Little standardization (hugely important)
o When did it happen? By what means?
o How many copies made in the scriptoria?
o Titles problematic?
o Tables of contents? (recall burke’s film)
- Print as commodity (Commodities? What sells? Why)
- Capitalist press owner would need to know how many copies printed, sold,
how much paper, ink used – how many hours employees worked
- Not the church’s motto “laborare est orare” – “to work is to worship.” But
an interesting irony arose…
o Abbot of Spondheim, devoted to
o Scriptoria: where the monks did their writing, scribes and velum
(velum?) is animal skin shaved off animal hair and layer of skin.
o Printed a book, on paper
o Praise of Scribes – double meaning?
1) Working in the Scriptorium was considered praise –
“laborare est orare” – “to work is to worship”
2) Abbot was praising work of scribes
- Why did Abbot choose paper over velum?
o Wanted to spread word and news fast
- Other monks took advantage of print as well…why? Sign of change in
human behavior. Speed and breadth of distribution – helped and
- But what did the press allow the Church to create and accelerate? And
what was the purpose? (Burke’s film)
- Important to consider why Marshall McLuhan appears in Eisenstein’s book
- In The Gutenberg Galaxy McLuhan creates an “anti-text”
- Insists, like new digital media, there may not have to be a “beginning” or
an “end” in text – jump in anywhere?
- With computers, we jump in anywhere; we don’t start at the beginning.
- In lots of McLuhan’s work he asked:
o What is text?
o What is a book?
o What are the “new media”?
o What will they do to us? We ask this now because…? o Issues Eisenstein saw as flaws in analysis of the press
- Can we abandon all hard-copy knowledge?
- Whose responsibility is it to choose what is recorded digitally?
- What knowledge will be left behind?
- Ethical questions of huge proportion
- Speaking of ethics…
- > Did secular, non-religious, print lead to very bad literature, unethical
- Harlequin Romance
- News of the world, pornography, “non” literature?
- Is the printing press the greatest commodity ever invented
- Early printers = pioneers in manufacturing and marketing
- Can we say that ab