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A Companion to the History of the Book (Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture)


A Companion to the History of the Book (Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture)The history of the book is a new scholarly adventure, still in its pioneering phase, which offers an innovative approach to studying both history and literature. It is based on two apparently simple premises, which have inspired some strikingly original work in the humanities. The first is that books make history.
In The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (1979), Elizabeth Eisenstein argued that the invention of print technology made possible the scientific revolution, mobilized the Protestant Reformation, and broadcast the achievements of the Italian Renaissance.
Meanwhile, Robert Darnton was making the case that scurrilous underground literature undermined France’s ancien rйgime to the point where it collapsed in 1789. They inspired other scholars to pose similar questions about books and historical causation.
Did escalating press rhetoric precipitate the French Reign of Terror and the American Civil War?
Did samizdat literature contribute to the implosion of Soviet communism?
Can the arrested development of Middle Eastern print culture, hemmed in by censorship, help to explain problems of modernization in that part of the world?
Book historians do not claim that books explain everything, but they do recognize that books are the primary tools that people use to transmit ideas, record memories, create narratives, exercise power, and distribute wealth.


Part I Methods and Approaches

1 Why Bibliography Matters
2 What is Textual Scholarship?
3 The Uses of Quantification
4 Readers: Books and Biography
Part II The History of the Material Text
The World before the Codex
5 The Clay Tablet Book in Sumer, Assyria, and Babylonia
6 The Papyrus Roll in Egypt, Greece, and Rome

The Book beyond the West

7 China
8 Japan, Korea, and Vietnam
9 South Asia
10 Latin America
11 The Hebraic Book
12 The Islamic Book

The Codex in the West 400–2000

13 The Triumph of the Codex: The Manuscript Book before 1100
14 Parchment and Paper: Manuscript Culture 1100–1500
15 The Gutenberg Revolutions
16 The Book Trade Comes of Age: The Sixteenth Century
17 The British Book Market 1600–1800
18 Print and Public in Europe 1600–1800
19 North America and Transatlantic Book Culture to 1800
20 The Industrialization of the Book 1800–1970
21 From Few and Expensive to Many and Cheap: The British Book Market 1800–1890
22 A Continent of Texts: Europe 1800–1890
23 Building a National Literature: The United States 1800–1890
24 The Globalization of the Book 1800–1970
25 Modernity and Print I: Britain 1890–1970
26 Modernity and Print II: Europe 1890–1970
27 Modernity and Print III: The United States 1890–1970
28 Books and Bits: Texts and Technology 1970–2000
29 The Global Market 1970–2000: Producers
30 The Global Market 1970–2000: Consumers

Part III Beyond the Book

31 Periodicals and Periodicity
32 The Importance of Ephemera
33 The New Textual Technologies

Part IV Issues
34 New Histories of Literacy
35 Some Non-textual Uses of Books
36 The Book as Art
37 Obscenity, Censorship, and Modernity
38 Copyright and the Creation of Literary Property
39 Libraries and the Invention of Information


40 Does the Book Have a Future?


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