Gutenberg and the Impact of Printing

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From typefounding through typesetting to the printing process itself, this narrative offers a fresh look at the unprecedented success story of the spread of the 'black art' right across Europe in a mere 40 years. Stephan F1/4ssel here analyses the first early printings, placing them in the context of the history of communication and the intellectual climate of a Europe-wide educated elite by about 1500. He foregrounds the tremendous rise in European culture and the history of education experienced as a direct result of this media revolution. In separate chapters F1/4ssel depicts the fast spreading of the art of printing to Italy, France and England, at the same time highlighting the importance of the art of printing for the Roman Catholic Church, the Reformation, the University and the economy. From herbals to a guide for midwives, the present book shows popular instruction at work in the vernacular, as well as the consolidation of knowledge into encyclopedias in the early modern period, and the emergence of new forms of the prose novel and the beginnings of newspapers and periodicals. Finally Stephan F1/4ssel traces the modern resonances of Gutenberg's invention, which persisted in virtually unchanged form for a further 350 years. It underwent decisive technological change through industrialisation and mechanisation in the nineteenth century, and again through digitalisation at the close of the twentieth century. However, as F1/4ssel shows, the mass diffusion of information and the related communications revolution which began with Gutenberg continue unabated.

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About the author (2005)

Professor Dr Stephan F1/4ssel occupies the Gutenberg Chair at Mainz University, and is Director of the Institute for Book Studies there. He has published extensively in the fields of incunabula research, the publication ethos of Germany's classical authors, and the competitive media position of the book for the future. He edits the Gutenberg-Jahrbuch and is Vice President of the Willibald-Pirckheimer-Gesellschaft for research into the Renaissance and Humanism.

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