Print Culture

Authored by: Ronald J. Zboray , Mary Saracino Zboray

The Handbook of Communication History

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  January  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415892599
eBook ISBN: 9780203149119
Adobe ISBN: 9781136514319

10.4324/9780203149119.ch9

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Abstract

The study of print culture history resembles skyscrapers scattered across a vast prairie: disconnected concentrations of intellectual energy built upon their own foundational inquiry. The buildings communicate with one another sporadically, usually by nearsighted carrier pigeons bearing refereed article offprints. In one skyscraper named “bibliography,” literary-minded folk obsess over signature collations and descriptive formulae. In a remote ramshackle tower, print journalism historians burn ashes to the memory of huge newspaper readerships. Much further away, in a postmodern structure architecturally quoting ancient cathedrals, reside historians of the book; there, elevators are out of service. Education and literacy historians reside in a nearby trailer park. Atop a tower-of-Babel-like structure, the world’s last library historians gesticulate unfathomably to “information scientists,” words having failed. The soaring skyscrapers draw away casual viewers’ attention from the surrounding terrain as an under-studied landscape of print, invisible through its omnipresence.

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