Saturday, February 10, 2007

The backwoodsman and the forest

According to paul starr, the creation of media, "he was a civilized man prepared for a time to face life in the forest, plunging into the wilderness of the New World with his Bible, ax, and newspapers
(Alexis de Tocqueville, the creation of the media pg. 48)

My opinion about this is that the backwoodsman was prepared for anything that came his way when he was in the forest. The reason behind his needing an ax was to fend off any animals that intended to do him harm in the forest. One reason why he needed the bible was to pray to god for strength.

Printing Press Moves the World From Religious Thinking to Historical Thinking

Elizabeth Eisenstein says that the printing press makes people "think less metaphorically and abstractly, more historically and concretely." Not only do I agree with this statement, but without the printing press, the majority of the public would not have ever been able to read. The ability to mass print led to more people being able to afford to read. With that, people were able to form their own opinions based on what they had just read instead of on what someone had just told them. When reading something, anything, a person is able to put their own spin on that subject, whether or not it is correct is not relevant, when someone hears something, the person telling them the facts is putting their own spin on it whether they know it or not. The printing press is directly responsible for people thinking more concretely.

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.

Class Schedule: 2/1 -- 2/15

Th. 2/1, Tu. 2/6 & Th. 2/8
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,”

Tu. 2/13
Revolution in Print: From Colonial Rebellion to the Constitution of a New Republic
Starr, chapter 2: “New Foundations.”
Benjamin Franklin, “The Way to Wealth,” “Reprieve for Jemmy and James,” & “Apology for Printers,”

Th. 2/15
Public Knowledge: The Post, The Press & the Public School
Starr, chapter 3: “America’s First Information Revolution.”

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Pressing Down on the Chesapeak

In reading chapter two in Starr, i came across something very interesting, and that is that the Chesapeake colonies (Maryland and Virginia) were very different then New England regarding there press, and printing ideas. The Governor of Virginia, William Berkeley writes in a letter to England...

I thank God, there are no free-schools, nor printing; and I hope we shall not have these [for a] hundred years...For learning has brought disobedience, and heresy, and sects into the world, and printing has divulged them, and libels against the best government. God keep us from both! (Starr p 53)

At this time in Virginia, printers who published anything against the people who had some sort of political pull, were often beaten. With that said, there were books in Virginia at this time, but they were only for wealthy planters or elite people in society. These elite members of society did not want the lower class to get a hold of books or print things about how they felt about current issues at that time because they were scared. Scared of the lower class raising important issues and possibly going against the church. The upper class did not want this, thus they basically kept books and knowledge away from the lower class. This was a sharp contrast in light of all the printing and ideas that were going around New England at this time.

In New England, book ownership ran from the large collections of Harvard Library and prominent ministers down to the Bibles, almanacs, and sermons of many ordinary readers. (Starr p 53)