Unfit for Our Print Class

Admittedly, we scratched the surface of many events and concepts that require some deeper examination, but as we were focused on the technology of print, we didn’t get to explore them in much depth. Here’s a few things you might like to research to get a sense of what we were discussing last night.

  • Chinese block printing predates the Gutenberg press by about 1,000 years, and by about 1000 AD, the Chinese had already developed a movable type printing press. However, Gutenberg’s press would be more efficient because his language used a small alphabet as opposed to the logograms used by the Chinese.
  • Speaking of which, the Latin alphabet derives from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets from the 7th century BC.
  • Gutenberg’s Movable Type reduced the cost, in terms of time and money, necessary to produce a bible: “In 1455, Gutenberg demonstrated the power of the printing press by selling copies of a two-volume Bible (Biblia Sacra) for 300 florins each. This was the equivalent of approximately three years’ wages for an average clerk, but it was significantly cheaper than a handwritten Bible that could take a single monk 20 years to transcribe.”[1]
  • Don’t forget to visit one of the Gutenberg Bibles at the Morgan Library (they have three copies) or the New York Public Library (theirs is printed on vellum).
  • With his Ninety-Five Theses, Martin Luther begat the Protestant Reformation of the Catholic Church.
  • Here’s a great BBC radio program from 2006 on Diderot’s Encyclopedie. If you have a chance, read the Preliminary Discourse by Jean Le Rond d’Alembert.
  • Stanford University has digitized dime novels, which were the epitome of mass-produced print in the nineteenth century.

See you in two weeks.

  1. http://www.citrinitas.com/history_of_viscom/press.html  ↩

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