Thursday, February 01, 2007

Gaston Bachelard and his views on creativity and literature

"A word is a bud attempting to become a twig. How can one not dream while writing? It is the pen which dreams. The blank page gives the right to dream." Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962)

In my opinion this quote displays how each of us has the ability to create something. It also deals with literature and how there is always a story to tell. He also creates the idea that the pen is doing the dreaming and the blank page gives us a way to express our dreams

Chapter 1

Starr, Paul. The Creation of the Media, Political Orgins of Modern Communications.
The same concern for the keeping society in check also constrained the development of education and literacacy. In the seventeeth century, England experience an "educational revolution" as schools become more widely available through efforts largely independent state. But the spread of schooling fell far short of becoming universal; the adult male literacy rate in England, measured by signatures, stalled around 60 percent through the eighteenth century (40, Starr).

This Statement is found true in today's society it shows that education is important and the key to success. That people in society would not function if the people did not have education

Communication is the Key

"For Centuries, the idea of free and open public communication about matters of political importance did not appeal to the great and powerful. Francis Bacon's equation, "Knowledge is power," may be read not simply as an endorsement of knowledge but also as a warning about its perils." (Starr, pg.7-8)

I find this quote to be very interesting because I firmly believe that knowledge is power. Everyone's voice should be heard throughout the world.

Religion and the Printing Press

"Beginning in 1517 in Germany, the Protestant Reformation unleashed a tremedous surge in printing."(26) When the Protestant Reformation began, it was important for the leaders of the different sects to get their beliefs out to the masses. For them to be able to do this they were going to have to print many pamphlets to spread their beliefs. It was important that each sect get their pamphlets printed because with Christianity splitting up the way that it was, there were many Christian sects trying to get followers. Without the Catholic Church upsetting so many people, the surge in printing would not have happened for a long time, but with the Protestant Reformation came mass printing in amounts that had never been thought possible before this time.

The Creation of the Media

"In 1543, the Catholic Church banned all books except those that had its approval, and in 1559 it issued its first Index of Forbidden Books. The long-run trend, however, in Protestant and Catholic countries alike, was toward centralized control in the hands of the state. Through several steps culminating in a proclamation in 1538, Henry VIII established a licensing system for all books in English." (Starr 28)

This quote from Pual Starr's, The Creation of the Media, really gave me an understanding as to what restrictions were created inorder to prevent people from furthering their knowledge. The church controlled a sequence of activities, including reading, inorder to suppress its citizens. These were the tactics used inorder to prevent any revolts against the church and its power.

Printing Press Leads To Literacy

Johannes Gutenberg is credited with creating the printing press in 1447. http:// Gutenberg's machine was known for making the mass production of print fast and simple. However, the spread of literacy and the use of the vernacular were also a great benefits. With the machine literature became more wide spread and available, therefore common people were given more access to it. This new availability of printed material influenced schooling and literacy. In addition, since the printed material was being distributed to such a large group, a common language of writing needed to be used. Print now needed to be written in the language of the common people. In "Print, Reform, and Reformation" Harvey J. Graff's writes, " Two of the most significant developments of the Reformation were the contribution of the printing press and the use of the vernacular." (106) The vernacular now needed to be used because so many people had access to it. The invetion of the printing press has been great benefit to society. It has made literature and information available to everyone.

The term "Public Sphere"

According to Paul Starr:
"The term "Public Sphere" combines both senses when conceived (as it will be here) as sphere of openly accessible information and communication about matters of general social concern."
Page 24, Starr
I think this is a great description or definition to the term. He describes it very well. I agree with the term because in today's society especially, anything that goes on in the world becomes a concern for everyone in that society. Because of New Public Sphere Communications between other countries or other places such as Europe and America are able to know the concerns of society around the globe.

The Success of Print in Early Europe

Paul Starr mentioned a very significant issue regarding the success of print during the seventeenth and eighteenth century in his book called Creation of the Media. The paragraph states...

Both the economic and the religious forces in the growth of
printing hleped shaped the international map of print...the early centers of
publishing in Germany, italy, and Holland dominated the production of
texts in Latin that wwere originally the chief articles of international
exchange, while publishers in the periphery specialized in vernacular. England,
which fell on the periphery of European economy when William Caxton introduced
printing in 1476... Since continental printers could supply tomes in Latin more
cheaply, the first in England concentrated on legal and literary texts in
English." (Starr, Paul, Chapter 1 P.27)

This paragraph is signifant because it refers to success of print in Europe and how the ideas were exchangeed within the society. The first paragraph refers to the two influential aspects that contribute to the growth of the society. Economically, one can say that printing opened the door for many opportunities. For example, around the 1600s and 1700s, it was a time of technological advancements which led to many traders utilizing a printing source (the map) to travel to different c0untries and exchange goods for money and vice and versa. This increased an economic boom for the people within the society, especially entrepreneurs and traders. In addition, the paragraph mentions producing texts and distributing them internationally. This shows that diffusion of knowledge took place effectively and at a speedy level. The English texts were spread more and at a cheaper rate.

Chap 1 Early Modern Origins

"In Europe and America during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries underwent a radical transformation..." (Starr23) This quote is interesting to me because numerous changes were occurring during this time period. Without any technological advantages in society Europe and America's communications began to grow. This is fascinating because people in this time frame seemed to be catching on that knowledge is power. Once this occurred the feudal society that existed started to crumble and people began to take it upon themself to learn more through journals, newspapers, and even the post office. (Starr 23)

The Printing Press

"The printing press is a mechanical printing device for making copies of identical text on multiple sheets of paper. It was invented in Germany by the goldsmith and printer Johannes Gutenberg in 1447. Printing methods based on Gutenberg's printing press spread rapidly throughout first Europe and then the rest of the world, replacing most block printing and making it the sole progenitor of modern movable type printing. Printing's effect on civilization has often been discussed in terms of the effect of the "printing press" on civilization—a rhetorical device, which alludes to the pivotal role of the printing press in the global spread of printing." , February 1, 2007

- The Printing Press is a device that helped established the mass production and circulation of the written word.

The Growth of Printing

According to Paul Starr, The Creation of Media "Economic and Religious forces played an
important role in the growth of printing and it helped shaped the international world of print" (pg.27).

I agree with this statement because back in the 1500's the church was one of the ways that printed material got to the poor. Anotther way that printed material got into the hands of the less fortunate was when people published pamphlets. The church helped pave the way for printing. During this time the church was a place where people got their knowledge from.

Effects of early choices

According to Paul Starr's Creation of Media:

"Early choices bias later ones and may lead institutions along a distinctive
path of development, affecting a society's role and position in the world." Starr, p2

In my opinion, according to early radio, this statement holds much truth. Choices made in the past have affected today's society. Those choices have molded and formed the way television and radio is ran today. Whatever choices that were made started the trends of media and helped to start the thinking process of how Radio and Television should be ran. From newspaper and radio to internet and television, they say with every choice there is a conclusion. Today's radio and television are the conclusions of past choices

Printing in France during the time of King Louis XIV

In the Creation of Media, France had a great way in getting media around by using the Printing Guild. Most people who did not belong to the guild were considered to be printing intruders.

Was it so wrong that the people had to belong to the guild if they had something of importance to say? Could they not express themselves without joining any oraganizations?

Well, i believe that legally if someone's story has to be brought towards all the citizens of the country, then they need to be a part of a legal institution or organization, that in turn will also accredit them for what they wanted to get across. Also this had to be done so that other people could not steal stories as well.


Page 29 (Chapt 1)

The Creation of Media
Paul Starr

Starr on the limitations of future forms of media

According to Paul Starr in The Creation of The Media:

"Things that work satisfactorily come to be thought of as right." (p.3)

This quote addresses the fact that current standards that are accepted limit the possibilities of future forms of media and technology. New forms of media tend to be based on the forms present of those that preceeded it.


No good historian of the media uses one form of determinism or another.
Paul Starr states
The communications media ... is impossible to understand without taking politics fully into account ..."

This is a good statement because it is very true. Even though you do not subject yourself to one form of determinism being technological, economic, political etc , as a historian you still have to take politics in account because it is in fact an important part of the media as a whole.

The print and society

In "The Rise Of The Reading Public", Elizabeth Eisenstein wrote... "The effects produced by printing have aroused little controversy, not because views on the topic coincide, but because almost none has been set forth in an explicit and systematic form." I personally conceive it inevitable in any media analysis that we find the results of mass communication to be ambiguously oriented. After all, the printing press was a dynamic tool that shaped a given society, birthed a profound culture, and defined history to be what it is, a forefront of political conventions. Its results are of inexplicable consequences, so long as it has been put upon us, as a theoretical and sociological phenomenon . It is hard to define the true nature of its existence, since it effects a myriad of aspects not only in the author's contemporary society, but more profoundly in the reformation era. Its inexplicable nature is evident in how the invention of print technology greatly effected the premises of human mentalities and eventually criterions. For those it helped to become literate, it abated theological oblivion with the scripts of the holy bible and would later fragment early change with the Protestant Reformation.

Early Creation of Shared Media

The early postal service was very influential in the growth of print media, it was the first exchange of news and connected a majority of Europe and eventually grew to connect beyond France and Europe. "Postal networks supported the creation of news networks. By 1600, there were correspondents exchanging economic and political intelligence across Europe..." (Paul Starr, 31)
In the beginning the news trade consisted mostly of information dealing with current market prices, and current exchange rates being passed only through the hands of merchants, bankers, diplomts and nobles before the service was opened to the public in the 1600s. When the news by mail service was opened publicly it began to run on a weekly schedule and now linked to the public it connected networks and people to other countries.

Fear of Print

In a time where there are so many mediums of media, it is hard to understand how much of an impact print had on society when it was first introduced. While we currently have the world at our fingers with the internet and instant access with live television, in the 16th century print was an innovative concept. It was so new and cutting edge that it was often considered taboo and controversial, as pointed out by Paul Starr in The Creation Of The Media (pg.28):
"In 1543, the Catholic Church banned all books except those that had its
approval, and in 1559 it issued its first Index of Forbidden Books. ... in a
proclamation in 1538,
Henry VIII established a licensing system for all books in English. During the sixteenth century, the English government also prosecuted those responsible for troublesome publications such grounds as treason, heresy, and 'false news' ..."

Reading about the fear and censorship portrayed at the beginning of print opened my eyes to the rights American writers have with free press. While there is much improvement on the liberties the mass media have developed, by no means do I believe that we have perfected the process of open journalism as a society. In the 16th century the Catholic Church and various monarchs had the power to limit what the public could do with print, now, eventhough there are biases by corporations and political agendas, with the limitlessness of the internet there is hardly any censorship anymore.

The First Newsletters and Newspapers

Paul Starr writes in his book that the development of the newsletter played a big part in the development of the postal service.
"Postal networks supported the creation of news networks" (Starr, p31)
With the beginnings of newsletters, there was then a need to send and receive them. People such as bankers, diplomats and nobles were the few people who had access to these newsletters which stated the prices of local markets as well as the rates for foreign bill exchange. These types of newsletters were produced by commercial centers. One of the first newsletter type of publication to be circulated was referred to as a gazzette. With the creation of this new media, there was a need to get it out there, and get it to the people who would benefit from it. From the early stages of newsletters, which were sent to certain people or private businesses, emerged the commercial newsletter. These were distributed throughout the mail in Europe and by people passing them on. If not for the postal service, these early forms of newspaper would not have evolved as much as they did. But the newsletter and early newspaper wasn't met with a much fan fair as you may think, early newspapers were used as a chronicle of past events and not so much as a base to discuss present community issues. Starr writes

"When newspapers first appeared, they were heavily censored, if not shut down
entirely; those that were permitted to develop were primarily court
founded to monopolize the news and to report and celebrate the
ceremonial life
of the court."

Print, reform, and reformation.

During the reformation, there were two major developments. They were the printing press and the use of the vernacular. These developments were crucial to the history of literacy, but they were not immediately recognized.

As per Harvey J. Graff, "Neither Luther and his theses, the church's hierarchy, the social context, the
printing press nor any single factor or development caused the events that
perminatly spit the world of western Christendom and firmly ended the middle

Although the printing press did not determine the reformation, it prepared for the coming of the reformation. It played a major role in the church, for it allowed holy writings to be published in a mass form, and it allowed notices to be posted on church walls, doors, and gateways, for people to read with much interest. Luther's own works were also in high demand.

Restrictions For The Presses

Paul Starr writes:

"The great political revolutions of the modern world, including the American,
the French, and both Russian revolutions (1917 and 1991), all raised the most
fundamental questions about communications and koqledge, as they did about
politics: Who will have the right to speak and to publish? Who will be subject
to surveillance? What access will ordinary people have to information and debate
about public issues?

...The restriction or protection of free speech, popular assembly, and
private association are only the most obvious examples." (Introduction. Page 5)

It seems now that the world had printing, they quickly seemed to debate about who should be able to use it, what could be said, and who could be able to read it. Instead of embracing this new invention, they had to pick it apart, and think of rules for it. They restricted freedom of speech, and quickly used the presses for the publications for laws, constitutions, and other things only those in office, or who were important were able to do. This just shows that only important people in society were able to try, and take over newer things before the public could get a hold of it.

Leader in Communications

"But in the early nineteenth century, when the United States was neither a world power nor a primary center of scientific discovery, it was already a leader in communications-in postal service and newspaper publishing, then in development of telegraph, later in the movies, roadcasting, and the whole repertoire of mass communications."

This statement from Paul Starr's The Creation Of The Media is completly true. The U.S has made steps in history with communications that not many countries can not say such as. the scientific revolution , and the protestant revolution. Despite the U.S not being leaders in many agrucultural steps it however has found it's way to be the the leader in technology mainly to say communications. The U.S might not still be the leader in communications with China and Japan taking the lead.

Johannes Gutenberg

Johannes Gutenberg's inventing of movable type printing is an important event in the history of mass media. Previously books had to be copied by hand. This job was mostly done by the monasteries of Europe, giving the Catholic Church a great deal of power over what literature was to be mass produced. Monks would copy books, like the bible, by hand for many hours. Once the printing process was in the hands of regular people though new ideas could be written about and shared with all of Europe. This would spark the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation and later a scientific revolution.

Protestant Reformation and Martin Luther

Harvey J. Graff writes

"The Protestant Reformation is said to be one of the greatest positive
forces toward the spread of literacy and schooling."

In the reading "Early Modern Literacies" by Harvey J. Graff, the author talks about the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther and how his writings were propaganda against the Catholic Church and started reform movements. Luther's writings were wide spread and the pamphlets and posters he composed were spread by peddlers. Printing is what had made the propaganda possible, and was generally the direct cause of the peasant's revolt.

I had found this reading most intertesting and informative because it talks about how without the use of printing and literacy of the people, Martin Luther's writings would not have had as much significance as they did. Religious works were printed and published the most because most people who knew how to read were involved in the churches. It is an example of early communication and propaganda.

In Capitalism everything becomes commodity

"As printing and bookselling developed, information itself increasingly became a commodity." Just like purification and filtration have recently become highly developed, companies of today have found a way to make a naturally occurring chemical substance such as water become a multi million dollar commodity. Both exploitations are a direct result of capitalism.

The Diffusion and Control of Print

Around the year 1450 the advent of printing was starting to change technology. The movable type that enable someone to copy work started the commercial selling of books. Authors can now take their once hand-written book and make hundreds of copies of it. The printing companies needed to spend a great deal of money to set up a press and keep it running. This is why it went hand and hand with capitalism. Most printing press were created in big cities because they were the only ones who could afford them.

Religious conflicts also hurt the growth of the press. They wanted to limit what was being printed. The state also wanted to limited what could be printed and control the press.
As time goes on the press becomes larger and larger and freedom of the press becomes part of the constitution after the War of independence to make sure the church or the state couldn't control it.

*Information from "The Creation of the Media" by Starr

Credit For Printing Press

According to
Johannes Gutenberg is credited with inventing the first printing press, although there are several local claims for the invention of the printing press in other parts of Europe, including Laurens Janszoon Coster in the Netherlands and Panfilo Castaldi in Italy."

Gutenberg was given credit because he was the first to convert the concept for printing use. Other were only using the screw prss to bind books and manuscripts he applied the process to printing. The others were making Gutenberg used this and a few of his other inventions to single handedly make greater printing output than with manual work. He did this and revolutionized the way we make handout and many documents including contracts today.

Class Schedule

Th. 2/1 & Tu. 2/6
The Word: Printing & Power in Early Modern Europe
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,”


Welcome to our History of the Mass Media blog!

Happy Posting.