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p. 343. Reading manuscripts, reading printlocked

  • Belinda Jack


For roughly a millennium, from 500 to 1500, manuscript culture was the culture of writing and reading. The medium was parchment, the readers were mostly clerics and aristocrats, the language was Latin, and reading was intimately bound up with religion. However, from the 12th century on, increasing numbers of lay people, including women, became book owners and commissioners of books. ‘Reading manuscripts, reading print’ describes how the world of reading changed dramatically with an increase in books written in the vernacular languages, but the invention of the printing press—and the increase in reading that came with it—was key to economic growth in the 15th and 16th centuries.

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