Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cheap Print and the Reading Revolution

Throughout the early nineteenth century the abundance of cheap print spread to all classes for the first time in history. (Starr 124) As "the explosion of print, reading became more varied, and readers scanned newspapers, magazines, and cheap books that they soon passed or discarded." For the first time ever it was not just the elite in society reading. The "penny press" and "dime novel" provided the middle and lower classes an opportunity to read unlike before. Even though, "a minority of the poor could read, most listened while a few read aloud; thus cheap print reached not so much a reading as a listening public." (Starr 124) Cheap print also helped form new markets. As time went on state governments began to disband old legislation and set new laws for citizens. All white men could now vote and with the elimination of property taxes citizens felt "endowed for the first time with full political rights, many workers had new reasons to pay attention to the news, and political parties had new reasons to pay attention to them." (Starr 130) Cheap print expanded the public sphere and created new markets in society "reading became a basis of mass persuasion for the first time in history." Finally, cheap print became a massive influence over all society and changed it forever.


At 10:37 PM, Blogger A. Mattson said...

A very good, substantive post.

The advent of cheap print came in response to an increasing demand for political and commercial information as well as entertainment.

The increasing size of the population and the lifting of property qualifications opened up the political process to larger numbers of American males. All of this added up to a much bigger market for newspapers, books, and magazines. Starr is looking for political explanations for the this expansion of the public sphere and thus the demad for cheap print.


Post a Comment

<< Home