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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

A History of Reading and Writing

In the Western World

ISBN 9780230001619
Publication Date December 2009
Formats Hardcover Paperback 
Publisher Palgrave

Martyn Lyons surveys the changing relationships enjoyed by men and women with the written word, from early times to the present day. He provides a highly-readable account of the social history of reading and writing, relating it to key historical moments such as the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment.

Offering a fresh history centred on the reactions and experiences of ordinary readers and writers, Lyons deals with key turning points that occurred throughout the centuries, such as the invention of the codex, the transition from scribal to print culture, the reading revolution and the industrialisation of the book.
Tracing the major historical developments across Europe and North America which revolutionised our relationship with texts, this book provides an engaging and invaluable overview of the history of scribal and print culture.

MARTYN LYONS is Professor of History at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. He is the author of several works on French revolutionary history and on the history of reading and writing practices. His publications include Le Triomphe du Livre, Readers and Society in 19th Century France, and Reading Culture and Writing Practices in 19th Century France.

What is the History of Reading and Writing?
Reading and Writing in the Ancient and Medieval world
Was There a Printing Revolution?
Print and the Protestant Reformation
Renaissance Books and Humanist Readers
Print and Popular Culture
The Rise of Literacy in the Early Modern West, c.1600-1800
Censorship and the Reading Public in Pre-revolutionary France
The Reading Fever, 1750-1830
The Age of the Mass Reading Public
New Readers and Reading Cultures
The Democratisation of Writing, 1800 to the Present
Readers and Writers in the Digital Age 
Further Reading.


A History of Reading and Writing in the Western World provides a thought provoking overview and analysis of a vast range of time and ideas. I would certainly recommend this as a set text for my Book History courses.' – Jane Potter, Oxford Brookes
'A History of Reading and Writing in the Western World fills a crying need for an introductory transnational Book History textbook.' – Jonathan Rose, Drew University
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