Brief lectures in Media History. Chapter 1 The printing revolution. Topics . Before printing Technical context of printing Gutenberg Printing & the Protestant Reformation Printing & the scientific revolution Printing & the idea of news The Enlightenment
Chapter 1 The printing revolution
Learning to write was the “tuition” for human education – Wilbur Schramm
Writing developed in step-by-step progression for business and ruling elites from picture – oriented (logographic) symbols
Monks who copied Bibles worked at the rate of about 1 – 3 pages per day, or a book per year. They couldn’t keep up with demand during the Renaissance.
Pages were made from parchment (calf, sheep or goat skin). Paper from linen (flax) was common in Europe by 1400s.
Printing amplified Martin Luther’s dissent in a way that had never happened before.
His 95 Theses, published in Germany in 1517, circulated across Europe in less than a month.
Crowds surged around the printing houses, grabbing pages still wet from the press.
Executed as Queen Mary I attempts to return Britain to Catholic Church
Retaliation for executions of her father, Protestant king Henry VIII
Sister Elizabeth I decrees tolerance for all Christian religions in Britain 1560s
Anabaptist Anne Hendicks is one of tens of thousands executed in Amsterdam 1570s
Printing spurred the exploration of physical and mental horizons
News of Columbus’ voyages
spread rapidly with printing in the 1490s, making him one of the first international heroes
Astronomical observatory of Tycho Brahe (1546–1601) included a printing shop to help spread new scientific knowledge – and prevent repression by the church
A 1556 book by Georgius Agricola (1494–1555)
Exploration of geology, mining and metallurgy, carefully illustrated.
Set a standard for scientific and technical books to come
Francois Voltaire (1694-1778) – May disagree with what you say but will die defending your right to say it.
Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755) - Spirit of the Laws / Separation of powers (Legislative, executive, judicial)
New York printer uses truth as a defense in seditious libel trial, 1734
Editor of North Briton, Member of Parliament
Newspaper censored, Wilkes convicted of seditious libel in 1764
Goes into four years of exile in France, returns to fight for Parliamentary privilege
Ben Franklin and other American revolutionaries this as a bad omen for their hope of freedom in America
Yes, he was that ugly … and yet he was amazingly popular
“These are the times
that try men’s souls”— the
words that turned the spark of
rebellion into a campaign for
American freedom emerged
from the pen of Thomas Paine.
After independence, Paine
became involved in the French
Revolution, then returned to the
Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense, 1776
“I was carried upon a table rather than allowed to mount it. Hardly had I got up on my feet when I saw myself surrounded by an immense crowd. Here is my short speech, which I shall never forget:
‘Citizens! There is not a moment to lose. . . .
This evening all the Swiss and German battalions will sally forth from the Champsde-
Mars to cut our throats. We have only one recourse—to rush to arms.’ I had tears in my eyes, and spoke with a feeling that I have ne’er
been able to recapture, no less describe.”
On the storming of the Bastille, July 14, 1789
Tens of thousands of aristocrats and innocents executed by guillotine in 1790s
Americans worry that their revolution can become bloody too
William Cobbett was called “a kind of
fourth estate in the politics of the country.”
Published Porcupine’s Gazette in Philadelphia, 1790s and the Weekly Political Register in England 1800s
Crusaded against cruelty, poverty and corruption. In 1809 imprisoned two years for seditious libel. Fled back to US in 1817 but then returned in 1819 to continue crusading.
Cobbett attacked the “smothering system” that led to the Luddite
Riots and vowed to expose Britain’s “service and corrupt press” that had become an instrument in the “delusion, the debasement and the
enslavement of a people.”
In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte assumed power
Freedom of the press ended, and widespread system of censorship was put
in place by 1808
Number of newspapers in Paris dwindled from hundreds to only 4 by 1811.
Censorship was lifted following Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, then imposed by French authorities, and occasionally lifted again in cycles over the next century.