Concealed in rows of carefully restored volumes in rare book libraries is a history of the patterns of book collecting and compilation that shaped the literature of the English Renaissance. In this early period of print, before the introduction of commercial binding, most published literary texts did not stand on shelves in discrete, standardized units. They were issued in loose sheets or temporarily stitched--leaving it to the purchaser or retailer to collect, configure, and bind them. In Bound to Read, Jeffrey Todd Knight excavates this culture of compilation--of binding and mixing texts, authors, and genres into single volumes--and sheds light on a practice that not only was pervasive but also defined the period's very ways of writing and thinking.
What did most people read? Where did they get it? Where did it come from? What were its uses in its readers' lives? How was it produced and distributed? What were its relations to the wider world of print culture? How did it develop over time? These questions are central toThe Oxford Historyof Popular Print Culture, an ambitious nine-volume series devoted to the exploration of popular print culture in English from the beginning of the sixteenth century to the present.
From handwritten texts to online books, the page has been a standard interface for transmitting knowledge for over two millennia. It is also a dynamic device, readily transformed to suit the needs of contemporary readers. In How the Page Matters, Bonnie Mak explores how changing technology has affected the reception of visual and written information.
The suite of forty prints published in Geneva in 1570 depicting the wars, massacres and troubles of the French Wars of Religion may have been the first picture history made in woodcuts or etchings that promised a geenral public a true view of great events of the recent past. This richly illustrated study reconstructs the gradual elaboration of this experimental work, situating it within the previously untold story of the use of the graphic arts to report the news in the fist centuries of European printmaking. Successive chapters explore the pictorial traditions that inspired the printmakers, examine how they gathered their information, assess the reliability of the scenes, and analyze the historical vision informing the series. Part 2 reproduces the full suite with commentary in double page fold-outs. Through the study of a single print series, lost chapters in the history of jorunalism, of the graphic arts, and of Protestant historical consciousness re-emerge.
See these essays in particular:
The Humanist as Reader / Anthony Grafton
Protestant Reformations and Reading / Jean-Francois Gilmont
Reading and the Counter-Reformation / Dominique Julia
Reading Matter and 'Popular' Reading: From the Renaissance to the Seventeenth Century / Roger Chartier
The contributions to this volume address important issues about books and their users in the 15th century. A unifying theme is the complex relationships between producers - be they authors, printers or decorators - the economic conditions of book distribution, and the requirements of readers or other users of books. Students of book history need to be open to other disciplines in order to understand why the European invention of printing was successful - and why books became the first successful mechanically mass-produced marketable product.
"What difference did printing make? Although the importance of the advent of printing for the Western world has long been recognized, it was Elizabeth Eisenstein in her monumental, two-volume work, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, who provided the first full-scale treatment of the subject. This illustrated and abridged edition provides a stimulating survey of the communications revolution of the fifteenth century. After summarizing the initial changes, and introducing the establishment of printing shops, it considers how printing effected three major cultural movements: the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the rise of modern science."--Publisher's description.