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Chapter 3 - The Hand Press, 1450–1800

from Part I - Origins

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 November 2023

Adam Hammond
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
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Summary

This chapter takes on the 350-year period following Gutenberg’s invention of the hand press in Mainz around 1450. It surveys the historical precedents for Gutenberg’s movable type in China and Korea; describes the development and the uneven spread of the hand press in Europe; and investigates the social and literary impacts and potentials of the technology, contending with Elizabeth Eisenstein’s claim that the printed book “brought about” historical events such as the Reformation and the Enlightenment. Questioning any neat separation of body and machine, McDowell argues for approaches that consider the human body as an essential literary technology. Hand-printed works, she contends, are the product neither of a human or a mere tool, but the two formed into a hybrid: “neither a printing press nor a hand can produce a printed text,” McDowell argues, “but together, machine and worker can and do.”

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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