Printing and the Book

Martin Austin Nesvig

in Latin American Studies

ISBN: 9780199766581
Published online October 2011 | | DOI:
Printing and the Book

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  • Regional and Area Studies
  • History of the Americas


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The development of the print culture and the printing press in Latin America date to the very earliest European expeditions of the 1490s. The pre-Hispanic cultures had no alphabetic script, though the Mayans and the Mexica both had pictographic writing systems, with the Mayan system being considerably more advanced. In any case, with the emergence of Latin America post-1492 came two principal trends, if one may call them that, in terms of the history of the book and the printing press. First, European (primarily Spanish, though also Flemish, Italian, Portuguese, French, and English) sailors, conquistadors, missionaries, travelers, merchants, and functionaries began to bring European books into Latin America as soon as the transatlantic passage was opened and the Spanish crown began to establish colonial rule in the Americas. Second, printing presses were established in Mexico City in 1539 and in Lima in 1585, followed later by presses in cities like Puebla. In many parts of Latin America, such as Caracas, Havana, Buenos Aires, and Santiago de Chile, printing presses were not established until later in the 17th and 18th centuries. The result of this timeline is that the overwhelming majority of output of American imprints came from Mexico and Peru. The scholarship on this topic parallels this trajectory. This bibliography is intended as a starting place to situate the sprawling scholarship into discrete categories, which can be expanded and developed over time. For now this bibliography is limited to Latin America in the Spanish world during the colonial period. Certainly a great deal more could be done in terms of a comprehensive bibliography, even of the secondary literature. Some unpublished bibliographies of secondary literature which take a broader view—including material on early modern Spain—run to close to one thousand entries. For the sake of being suggestive rather than completely comprehensive, this article’s scope is limited for the present to this temporal and geographic reach.

Article.  14339 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies ; History of the Americas

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