Reading Response to Elizabeth Eisenstein’s The Printing Press As An Agent of Change
Throughout all these readings, one through-line for me has been human’s ability to make technologies invisible, to make revolutionary artifacts and systems of knowing mere wallpaper in front of which we create other technologies. Elizabeth Eisenstein’s text The Printing Press As An Agent of Change contains a deluge of information that overwhelmed me in its thoroughness and curiosity about the many ways that the introduction of the printing press changed the world, or did it? See, one of the aspects of Einstein’s text I was most impressed by is her lack of allegiance to any narrative about how the printing press changed the world.
In general, Eisenstein’s text claims the history of the printing press’ impact on society is difficult to determine because it impacted areas so unevenly and at different rates that it is difficult to isolate what was owing to the press’ invention at any particular point in time. Biased by their varying fields of interests, Eisenstein states that scholars have tended to oversimplify printing’s history and flatten out the response of people to create particular narratives. Repeatedly through the first two chapters she notes trending changes that have occurred in the wake of print’s creation only to find several exceptions to those trends. Despite the difficulties in finding a clear narrative though, Einstein states that by paying attention to the communication revolution enacted by print, we can better recognize the motives of people rather than ascribe them to whatever reasons are laying around. Continue reading “How Did We Lose A Revolution?”