Thursday, February 08, 2007

First Written Assignment

First Written Assignment
Due: Tuesday February 27

Answer any three of the following questions:

1. Elizabeth Eisenstein describes the rise of the “reading public” made possible by the transition from scribal to print culture. What is the significance of this “reading public” according to Eisenstein? Discuss at least three important changes arising in the transition from oral and scribal culture to the world of print.

2. What was the relationship between printing, literacy and the religious upheavals of the Sixteenth century? What role did print play in the confrontation between the Church and the Protestant Reformation? Describe the Church’s reaction to the spread of printing and literacy. Explain the conflict over the Bible. Describe the role of religious reformers in the spread of literacy and printing.

3. John Thompson describes how the advent of printing “transformed patterns of communication in early modern Europe.” How so? What new demands did these networks of communication serve? Who benefited? What kind of news was circulating? What was the reaction to this “proliferation of newspapers and periodicals” by the political authorities?

4. Marcel Thomas describes the monastic culture of manuscript production that preceded the invention of movable type. What were the factors that made the mass production of the word possible before the printing press? Why is this significant? What social forces were driving this transformation of scribal culture?

5. In the first chapter of Starr’s Creation of the Media, the author declares that communications “underwent a radical transformation” during the 17th and 18th centuries but “not because of any revolution in communications technology. Briefly describe this “enormous” change in communications and the “new sphere of public information, public debate and public opinion” that emerged as a result. If technological innovation was not the primary cause for this transformation, what was?


You must make clear and explicit use of the following assigned readings:

Paul Starr, chapter 1: “Early Modern Origins.”
Marcel Thomas, “Manuscripts.”
Elizabeth Eisenstein, “The Rise of the Reading Public.”
Harvey J. Graff, “Early Modern Literacies,”
John B. Thompson, “The Trade in News.”

Assignments that do not use these sources will not be accepted. Use quotation marks when quoting and cite your sources clearly. Please remember: plagiarism is grounds for failure for the entire semester. Your paper should be 4-6 typed pages long. Use a standard 12 point font, double-spacing, one inch margins and a staple. No covers please.
If you have any questions, please contact the instructor as soon as possible.


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