Printing and the Book

Erika Rummel, Mark Wilson and Milton Kooistra

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:
Printing and the Book

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy


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Until the 1980s, when periodization fell out of favor among historians, the development of printing was used as one of the markers for the onset of the Renaissance. Thus the significance of printing has long been recognized. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, however, its impact on social and intellectual history moved to the center of research in early modern history. This interest may be explained by the fact that the last decades of the 20th century experienced a media shift that equals the importance of the shift in the 15th century. Elizabeth L. Eisenstein’s seminal 1979 book The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (see Eisenstein 1979 cited under General Overviews) was in the vanguard of this wave of research. Criticism of Eisenstein for placing too much emphasis on the revolutionary character of printing and its singular impact on the Reformation has prompted some modification in the approach to the history of printing, but the recognition of its significance for the dissemination of information and learning and as an opinion maker has remained unchanged.

Article.  10204 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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