Print Culture And The Modern World Class 10 Notes History Chapter 5

What are Print Culture and the Modern World?

The first printed books

The earliest print technology was developed in China, Japan and Korea. From 594 AD onwards, books were printed in China by rubbing paper against the inked surface of woodblocks.

For a very long time, the imperial state of China was the major producer of printed material. The Chinese bureaucratic system recruited its personnel through civil service examinations. The imperial state sponsored the large scale printing of textbooks for this examination.

By the seventeenth century, the use of print diversified in China because of a blooming urban culture.

Print in Japan : The Buddhist missionaries from China introduced hand-printing technology into Japan around 768-770 AD. The Buddhist Diamond Sutra which was printed in 868 AD was the oldest Japanese book.

Advent of print in Europe : Marco Polo was a great explorer from Italy. He returned from China in 1295 and brought the knowledge of woodblock printing along with him. By the early fifteenth century, the woodblock printing replaced the books made by calligraphy.

Gutenberg and the Printing Press :

  • (a) Gutenberg used his knowledge to bring innovation to the print technology. He used the olive press as the model for the printing press and used the moulds for casting the metal types for the letters.
  • (b) Gutenberg perfected the system by 1448. The first book printed by him was the Bible.

The Print Revolution and its Influence :

  • (a) With the print technology, a new reading public emerged. Books became cheaper because of printing. Numerous copies could now be produced with much ease.
  • (b) Popular ballads and folk tales were published which could be listened by even the illiterates. Literate people read out stories and ballads to those who could not read.

Religious discourse and fear of Print :

  • (a) Print created an opportunity of a new debate and discussion. People began questioning some established notions of religion.
  • (b) The Roman Church felt troubled by new ideas which raised questions about the existing norms of faith. It even started to maintain an Index of Prohibited Books from 1558.

The Reading Mania :

  • (a) The literacy levels improved through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Europe. By the end of the eighteenth century, literacy rates were as high as 60 to 80 percent in some parts of Europe.
  • (b) Ideas of scientists and philosophers became more accessible to the common people. New ideas could be debated and shared with a wider target audience.

Print Culture : Print popularised the ideas of Enlightenment thinkers. These thinkers gave critical commentary on tradition, superstition and despotism. Voltaire and Rousseau were among the prominent enlightenment thinkers.

French Revolution : By the 1780s, there was a surge in literature which mocked the royalty and criticised their morality. Print helped in creating an image of the royalty that they indulged in their own pleasure at the expense of the common public.

The Nineteenth Century Print Culture :

  • (a) There was vast leap in mass literacy in Europe in the nineteenth century. This brought in large numbers of new readers among children, women and workers.
  • (b) Many women became important as readers as well as writers. The lending libraries which had been in existence from the seventeenth century became the hub of activity for white-collar workers, artisans and lower middle class people.

Further Innovations : Richard M. Hoe of New York perfected the power-driven cylindrical press by the mid-nineteenth century. This could print 8,000 sheets per hour. Many other innovations took place during this period. All the innovations had a cumulative effect which improved the appearance of printed texts.

  • 1. Calligraphy: The art of ornate and stylised writing.
  • 2. Vellum: A parchment obtained from the skin of animals.
  • 3. Platen: In the sphere of letterpress printing, platen is a board that is embossed on the back of the paper to get impression from the type. Initially, a wooden board was used. Later on, it was made of steel.
  • 4. Compositor: The person who composes the text for printing.
  • 5. Galley: It is a variant of metal frame in which types are laid and the text composed.
  • 6. Ballads: A ballad is a sort of verse, belting out a poem or song narrative set to music.
  • 7. Taverns: Places where people assembled to drink alcohol, eat food, and to meet friends and swap news.
  • 8. Protestant Reformation: The concept of ‘Protestant Reformation’ means believing in the ‘protestant’ or reformed strand of Christianity, popularised by Martin Luther.
  • 9. Inquisition: A former Roman Catholic Court that identified and punished heretics.
  • 10. Heresy: Beliefs that do not follow the prescribed teachings of the Catholic Church. In the medieval epoch, heresy was detrimental to the right and privileges of the Catholic Church. Heretical notions were severely punished.
  • 11. Satiety: It is the feeling or the state of being sated or achieving complete satisfaction.
  • 12. Seditious: Action, speech or writing that is seen as antagonising the government.
  • 13. Denominations: The term ‘denominations’ are hailed as ‘sub-groups’ or ‘sub-categories’ within the fold of religion.
  • 14. Almanac: An annual publication that reflects on astronomical data and gives informative data about the movement of the sun and moon, timing of full tides and eclipses. It stresses on the significance of the day-to-day public life.
  • 15. Chapbook: The term ‘chapbook’ denotes ‘pocket-size’ books that are sold by the wandering peddlers. These chapbooks became phenomenal from the sixteenth century Print Revolution.
  • 16. Despotism: The term ‘despotism’ refers to a variant of governance in which absolute power is wielded by an individual and unregulated by legal and constitutional checks.
  • 17. Ulama: The term ‘Ulama’ means erudite legal scholars of Islam and the Sharia (a body of Islamic Law).
  • 18. Fatwa: A legal pronouncement on Islamic law usually provided by a mufti (legal scholar) to describe issues related to the uncertainty of th law.
  • 19. Vernacular Press Act: At the behest of Lord Lytton, the then Viceroy of India (governed 1876-80), the Act aimed to restrict the vernacular press from criticising the British policies, basically the opposition that developed from the beginning of the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-80).
  • 20. Censorship: Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information, on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or ‘inconvenient’ as determined by government authorities or by community consensus.