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The Printing Press as an Agent of Change

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  96 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
The first fully-documented historical analysis of the impact of the invention of printing upon European culture, and its importance as an agent of religious, political, social, scientific, and intellectual change.
Paperback, 820 pages
Published September 30th 1980 by Cambridge University Press (first published 1979)
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Lauren
Aug 14, 2009 Lauren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: euro-history, grad
This book, and the footnotes therein, formed many a research topic for my graduate studies looking at the history of the book and the Protestant Reformation. This book was phenomenal in helping me understand this period.
Shinynickel
Mar 17, 2009 Shinynickel marked it as to-read
Off Clay Shirky:

Elizabeth Eisenstein’s magisterial treatment of Gutenberg’s invention, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, opens with a recounting of her research into the early history of the printing press. She was able to find many descriptions of life in the early 1400s, the era before movable type. Literacy was limited, the Catholic Church was the pan-European political force, Mass was in Latin, and the average book was the Bible. She was also able to find endless descriptions of lif
...more
Anup Das
Feb 07, 2015 Anup Das rated it really liked it
An authentic historical account of role of printing presses in early-modern Europe
In book "The Printing Press as an Agent of Change" author Elizabeth L. Eisenstein narrates theoretical and practical dimensions of communications and cultural transformations in early-modern Europe. This book is divided into three parts: (p.1) Introduction to an elusive transformation, (p.2) Classical and Christian traditions reoriented; Renaissance and reformation reappraised, (p.3) The book of nature transformed.
...more
Anthony
Nov 17, 2014 Anthony rated it liked it
Shelves: history, half-read
Her thesis is such a good one that her defence of it gets very dull. It would have been interesting to discuss why China missed out on the Enlightenment, given that they had the Printing press before Europe.
Feliks
Jul 24, 2016 Feliks rated it really liked it
Shelves: good-nonfiction
The most impeccable work of academia I have ever encountered from a female scholar. She conveys her subject matter better than does Rachel Carson; better than does Barbara W. Tuchman, better than does Margaret Meade. Better than anyone. Elizabeth L. Eisenstein reins supreme, so far in my experience. She commandeered this enormous historical topic and made it her own. Consummate professionalism.

Mark me: this is praise I do not give lightly. I generally dislike women authors; I don't usually find
...more
Ari
Mar 13, 2016 Ari rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ari by: Cosma Shalizi
Before I read this book, I would have agreed that printing was a hugely important technology. But I had not thought very much about the details of where that effect was seen.

This is a long detailed work of history and historiography to trace why printing mattered, and to show that previous historians had understated its importance. The book is very much written to an audience of professional historians, but I was able to follow it and was enormously stimulated.

Here are a few examples of points t
...more
Anup Das
Feb 07, 2015 Anup Das rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An authentic historical account of role of printing presses in early-modern Europe
In book "The Printing Press as an Agent of Change" author Elizabeth L. Eisenstein narrates theoretical and practical dimensions of communications and cultural transformations in early-modern Europe. This book is divided into three parts: (p.1) Introduction to an elusive transformation, (p.2) Classical and Christian traditions reoriented; Renaissance and reformation reappraised, (p.3) The book of nature transformed.
...more
Kent
Aug 21, 2008 Kent rated it it was amazing
A MONUMENT! Eisenstein manages to take three major early modern fields of development and ratchet them around the invention of the printing press. Humanism, the Reformation, and the Scientific Century all get held to a new order. What's most interesting to me is the Burkhardt enthusiasm for the individual intellect she's a little critical of (probably because his enthusiasm was mainly for Italians) is actually supported by her thoughts on the press, and the press's democratizing aspect.
Katerlio
Oct 31, 2010 Katerlio is currently reading it
the tiniest start to a book-group...
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Elizabeth Lewisohn Eisenstein was an American historian of the French Revolution and early 19th century France. She was best known for her work on the history of early printing, writing on the transition in media between the era of 'manuscript culture' and that of 'print culture', as well as the role of the printing press in effecting broad cultural change in Western civilization.
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“When ideas are detached from the media used to transmit them, they are also cut off from the historical circumstances that shape them, and it becomes difficult to perceive the changing context within which they must be viewed.” 1 likes
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