The Culture of Print

The Culture of Print: Power and the Uses of Print in Early Modern Europe

Andrew F. G. Bourkie
Alain Boureau
Roger Chartier
Marie-Elisabeth Ducreux
Christian Jouhaud
Paul Saenger
Catherine Velay-Vallantin
Edited by Roger Chartier
Translated by Lydia G. Cochrane
Copyright Date: 1989
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    The Culture of Print
    Book Description:

    The leading historians who are the authors of this work offer a highly original account of one of the most important transformations in Western culture: the change brought about by the discovery and development of printing in Europe. Focusing primarily on printed matter other than books, The Culture of Print emphasizes the specific and local contexts in which printed materials, such as broadsheets, flysheets, and posters, were used in modern Europe. The authors show that festive, ritual, cultic, civic, and pedagogic uses of print were social activities that involved deciphering texts in a collective way, with those who knew how to read leading those who did not. Only gradually did these collective forms of appropriation give way to a practice of reading--privately, silently, using the eyes alone--that has become common today. This wide-ranging work opens up new historical and methodological perspectives and will become a focal point of debate for historians and sociologists interested in the cultural transformations that accompanied the rise of modern societies.

    Originally published in 1989.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6033-3
    Subjects: Technology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. General Introduction: Print Culture
    (pp. 1-10)

    This book proposes a dual definition of print culture. The first and the classic definition refers to the profound transformations that the discovery and then the extended use of the new technique for the reproduction of texts brought to all domains of life, public and private, spiritual and material. This new technique quite evidently encouraged the circulation of the written word on an unheard-of scale, not only because book-making costs were lower when they were spread over the thousand or fifteen hundred copies of one press-run rather than being borne by one copy alone but also because production time, which...

      (pp. 13-14)

      From the Middle Ages to the mid-nineteenth century, many books and tracts, first manuscript then in print, fed the imaginations of a broad range of readers, offering marvellous events, lifelike fictions and stories for their belief or delectation. Out of this mass of texts and forms we have chosen three genres – the saint’s life, theoccasionneland the tale – because they lasted through the centuries, they accounted for a large part of print production, and they provide obvious points of comparison. Following the principles stated in the foreword, each genre is approached through the study of specific and localized cases...

    • 1 Franciscan Piety and Voracity: Uses and Strategems in the Hagiographic Pamphlet
      (pp. 15-58)

      A noble lady of the castle of Galeta suffered from a cyst between her breasts and had found no remedy against the foul odour and the pain that overwhelmed her. One day she entered a church of the Friars to pray. She saw there a tract that contained the life and the miracles of St Francis. She leafed through it with lively interest to know what it contained, and when she had been instructed in the truth, bathed in her own tears, she took the book and placed it on the affected place and said, ‘By the truth that is...

    • 2 The Hanged Woman Miraculously Saved: An occasionnel
      (pp. 59-91)

      The page is headed by a long title in the style of the age:Discours miraculeux et véritable advenu nouvellement, en la personne d‘une fille nommée Anne Belthumier, servante en l‘Hostellerie du Pot d’Estain, en la Ville de Mont-fort entre Nantes et Rennes en Bretaigne, laquelle a esté pendue III jours & 3. nuits sans mourir. Avec Confession de plusieurs dudit Mont-fort, comme l’on pourra voir par ce pérsent discours.At the foot of the page there is an imprint and a date: ‘A Douay, Chez la Vefve Boscart, selon la copie imprimée à Paris M. D. LXXXIX. Avec permission.’...

    • 3 Tales as a Mirror: Perrault in the Bibliothèque bleue
      (pp. 92-136)

      Who wrote Perrault’sContes? Was it a children’s book? If so, what was its pedagogical stance? Did it simply reflect a fashion, or was it a popularizing endeavour, like Fontenelle’s during the same period? How was it connected with the Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns?

      Literary historians periodically analyse data and compare dates. Although the identification of sources for theConteshas until recently prompted anachronistic representations that have played a role in the great variety in the uses of this collection, it is not my intention to discuss them here. To summarize, I might note the tenacious...

      (pp. 139-140)

      Three uses of religious printed matter – liturgical, ritual, and heretical – interest us here. The problem is to show, through an analysis of particular materials and situations, how the work of Christianization used the book and the printed image to cement community, propose correct devotions, and inculcate the teachings of the Church, but also how written objects could help perpetuate religious beliefs disapproved by orthodoxy. Printed matter (and before it and with it the manuscript book) was the instrument of a religious acculturation controlled by authority, but under certain circumstances it also supported resistance to a faith rejected, and proved an...

    • 4 Books of Hours and the Reading Habits of the Later Middle Ages
      (pp. 141-173)

      Books of hours are the most widely known of the many genres of medieval manuscript. Their frequently attractive and often radiantly beautiful illuminations have made them the object of lavish facsimile editions, and reproductions of individual illuminations are to be found in almost every general survey of medieval culture. Despite their alluring visual properties, books of hours, even in Catholic countries, are among the least understood of the written artefacts of the Middle Ages. In particular, little consideration has been given to how these books were actually read and used in daily life. The problem of their use is reflected...

    • 5 From Ritual to the Hearth: Marriage Charters in Seventeenth-Century Lyons
      (pp. 174-190)

      Pierre Bénier wedded Martine Palatin in Lyons on II May 1631. The ritual governing the ceremony dated from 1542, but the better part of it was older and based on texts printed in 1526 and even before, in 1498. Under the porch outside the church the priest, with the man at his right and the woman at his left, proclaimed the banns a fourth time, asked the couple if there was any impediment to their union, then blessedannulum et chartam totum simul– ‘the ring and the charter together’.

      The ritual mentions thischarteseveral times. It was blessed and...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • 6 Reading unto Death: Books and Readers in Eighteenth-Century Bohemia
      (pp. 191-230)

      In eighteenth-century Bohemia, in both towns and countryside, books seemed to play a central role in the life of peasants and modest artisans. It fed their thoughts, forged their identity and, in certain cases, encouraged their faith. Retracing that culture of the book is not an easy task, however. The dossiers that accumulated under a ‘mild’ Austrian Inquisition portray the suspects who were interrogated in a rudimentary and relatively unchanging role that from the outset reflected pre-established views of an improvised and composite Protestantism. Thus the motivations of people whose love of books led them into an accusation of heresy...

      (pp. 233-234)

      In the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries power was illustrated: ritual and pomp, ranks and honours, decisions and acts all passed massively into print in pieces combining image and text. The profusion of these objects – which ranged from the most rough-hewn to the carefully elaborated – poses several problems.

      Was illustration passive, involving multiple agents, or active? Did its multiplicity and diversity reflect ‘opinions’ or varying points of view about public affairs? Or is that diversity instead a manifestation of the universal and supple hold on the public of the wielders of power?

      What role did printing play, or did people...

    • 7 Readability and Persuasion: Political Handbills
      (pp. 235-260)

      Among all mass-distributed print pieces, theplacards– handbills or broadsheets – show the closest, most vital association of text and pictures. The termplacarddesignated a printed sheet that could be posted where it could be read by passers-by. Contemporaries often connected this means of expression with clandestinity. Writings that one would not openly admit to were posted surreptitiously, preferably by night. Thus the wordplacardwas often combined with adjectives such as ‘injurious’, ‘defamatory’, or ‘scandalous’. The most famous were those posted by Protestants over the night of 17–18 October 1534 in several French cities: Paris, Rouen, even Amboise,...

    • 8 Books of Emblems on the Public Stage: Côté jardin and côté cour
      (pp. 261-289)

      It was once thought possible to think in images. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, Father Claude-François Ménestrier, in a work of history through pictures, recounted this exploit with delight: ‘Louis, Prince of Turenne, after finishing his studies in philosophy at the Collège de Louis-le-Grand ... presented his thesis in a novel form in which each page was a trophy adorned with Devices, Images, Emblems and Eulogies with magnificent titles.’¹ For his thesis in philosophy the young prince had composed a book of emblems. One might suspect the university authorities of complaisance towards the aristocracy and the court, where...

    • 9 Printing the Event: From La Rochelle to Paris
      (pp. 290-334)

      In Paris at the end of 1628 and the beginning of 1629, texts and publications in a variety of forms focused on one event – the end of the siege of La Rochelle. This study hopes to show how print pieces dealt with this event, how the different sorts of printed matter that revolved around this event related to one another, and how the relationship of text and images in these publications came to dominate the production of meaning.

      On 29 October 1628, after fourteen months of siege and blockade, La Rochelle surrendered. The old Protestant city opened its gates to...

  8. Index
    (pp. 335-351)
    Lydia Cochrane