The first exercise follows on from the ideas of ‘the arbitrariness of the sign’ and ‘the textual revolution and the story’:
What happens to a story when you take it from its source, make it permanent in print, and disseminate it to a wide audience?
- When a story is printed, it reaches a lot more people than it would when told orally. It stops evolving too. No longer does it change with each re-telling. That particular story is set in stone (or ink), unless it is re-written by someone else.
- Printing of stories can have negative implications – misinformation and propaganda is more easily spread by print than by word of mouth.
- In the positive, people can be informed and taught more easily.
Write a list of implications arising from the printing press. For example, think about who has control/authority over the text, the meaning of the text, and the relationship between the source of the text and its recipient.
- The printing press allowed information to be spread quickly and accurately.
- It helped create a more literate reading public.
- More non-religious books were published, particularly scientific works. The accuracy of printing allowed scientists to share their results with each other and advance topics further, before sharing again, and the cycle repeating.
- This process eventually led to the Scientific Revolution of the 16th ad 17th Centuries, where Europe’s world view changed from being primarily religious, to being primarily secular.
- The printing press took book copying out of the hands of the church and made it harder for them to control and censor what was being written.
- The ability to mass produce books and pamphlets speaking out against the Catholic church helped the Protestant Revolution to gain momentum, where it had previously failed. Eventually, the church split up into Catholic and Protestant.
- Texts in languages that the general public understood (as opposed to Latin) allowed them to learn and start thinking critically about the world around them. In turn, they became less dependant on the church and nobility for information, and began to decide their own fates.