JAC Board Class 10 Social Science Notes History Chapter 5 Print Culture and the Modern World
→ Print has a history. This chapter looks at the development of print, from its beginning in East Asia to its expansion in Europe and in India.
→ This analyses to understand the impact of the spread of technology and consider how social lives and cultures changed with the coming of print.
→ The First Printed Books:
- The earliest kind of print technology was developed in China, Japan and Korea.
- From AD 594 onwards, books in China were printed by rubbing paper-also invented there-against the inked surface of woodblocks.
- The Chinese had the ‘accordion hook’ and knew calligraphy.
- The imperial state in China was, for a very long time, the major producer of printed material.
- Textbooks for civil services examination were printed in vast numbers under the sponsorship of the imperial state.
- By the seventeenth century, as urban culture boomed in China, the uses of print diversified. Print was not only used by the scholar-officials, but also by the merchants regularly’for collecting trade information. It became a leisure activity, and women began to read. There were demands for fictional narratives, poems, autobiographies, anthologies of literary masterpieces, and romantic plays. Wives of scholar-officials published their work and courtesans wrote about their lives.
- Shanghai became the hub of the new print culture, catering to Western-style schools. There was a gradual shift from hand printing to mechanical printing.
→ Print in Japan:
- Buddhist missionaries from China introduced hand-printing technology into Japan around AD 768-770.
- The oldest Japanese book, Diamond Sutra, printed in AD 868, contains six sheets of text and woodcut illustrations.
- Libraries and book stores were packed with various hand-printed material of various types—books on women, musical instruments, calculations, tea ceremony, flower arrangements, proper etiquette, cooking and famous places.
→ Print Comes to Europe
- In the eleventh century, Chinese paper reached Europe through the silk route.
- China already had the technology of woodblock printing. Marco Polo after many years of exploration in China, took back the knowledge with him to Italy.
- Woodblock technology was used in Italy. By the early fifteenth century, the technology was widely used in Europe to print textiles, playing cards, and religious pictures with simple, brief texts.
- There was need for quicker and cheaper reproduction of texts. The breakthrough occurred at Strasbourg, Germany, where Johannes Gutenberg developed the first- known printing press in the 1430s.
→ Gutenberg and the Printing Press
- By 1448, Gutenberg perfected the printing system. The first book he printed was the Bible. It took three years to print 180 copies, which was quite fast as per the standards of the time.
- From 1450 to 1550, printing presses were set up in most countries of Europe. The second s half of the fifteenth century saw 20 million copies of printed books flooding the markets in Europe, which went up to 200 million copies in the sixteenth century, The shift from hand printing to mechanical printing led to the print revolution.
→ The Print Revolution and Its Impact
The print revolution transformed the lives of the people, changing their relationship to information and knowledge, and with institutions and authorities. It influenced l popular perceptions and opened up new ways of looking at things.
→ A New Reading Public
- With the printing press, a new reading public . emerged. Earlier reading was restricted to the elites, and majority was hearing public. As books reached out to wider sections of people, a reading public emerged,
- The literacy rate in Europe was very low till the twentieth century. Therefore, the , publishers had to keep in mind the wider reach of the printed work. Printers began publishing popular ballads and folk tales, arid these books were profusely illustrated with picAires. These were then sung and recited at gatherings in villages and in taverns in towns.
- The line that separated the oral and reading cultures blurred. Religious Debates and Fear of Print
- Print created the possibility of wide circulation of ideas, and introduced a new world of debate and discussion. Printed message could persuade people to think differently, and move them to action.
- It was also feared that if there was no control over what was printed and read, then rebellious and irreligious thoughts – might spread. If that happened, the authority of ‘valuable’ literature would be lost.
- In 1517, the religious reformer Martin Luther wrote the Ninety-Five Theses, which criticised the practices and rituals of the Roman Catholic Church. His writings were widely spread and read. It led to a division within the Church and to the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.
→ Print and Dissent:
Print and popular religious literature stimulated many distinctive individual interpretations of faith even among the little-educated working people. In the sixteenth century, Menocchio, a miller in Italy reinterpreted the message of the Bible and formulated a view of God and Creation that enraged the Roman Catholic Church. After being hauled twice, he was executed. Troubled by the effects of reading and questioning of faith, the Roman Catholic Church imposed several controls over publishers and booksellers, and began to maintain an Index of Prohibited Books from 1558.
→ The Reading Mania
- Through the seventeenth centuries, literacy rates went up in most parts of Europe. Churches of different denominations spread education among the peasants and artisans by setting up schools in the villages.
- New forms of popular literature, such as almanacs, chapbooks, and ‘Bibliotheque bleue’ appeared in print, targeting new audiences. They were cheap books. Romances and the more substantial ‘histories’ were also printed and read.
- The periodical press, such as newspapers and journals carried information about wars and trade as well as news of development in other places.
- The ideas of scientists and philosophers became more accessible to the common people. Ancient and medieval scientific texts were compiled, and maps and scientific diagrams were widely printed. The writings of thinkers like Voltaire, Rousseau and Thomas Paine were read.
→ ‘Tremble, therefore, tyrants of the world!’
- By the mid-eighteenth century, many people believed that books could change the world, liberate society from despotism and tyranny, and herald a time when reason and intellect would rule.
- Convinced of the power of print in bringing enlightenment and destroying the basis of despotism, Merrier proclaimed, ‘Tremble, therefore, tyrants of the world! Tremble before the virtual writer! ’
→ Print Culture and the French Revolution
- Three types of arguments have been put forward in favour that print culture created the conditions within which French Revolution occurred.
- The print collectively highlighted the thoughts and writings of the Enlightenment thinkers. They provided a critical commentary on tradition, superstition and despotism. It questioned the sacred authority of the Church and the despotic power of the state. People who read Voltaire and Rousseau saw the world with new eyes, eyes that were questioning, critical and rational.
- All values, norms and institutions were re-evaluated and discussed by a section of public that had become aware of the power of reason, and recognised the need to question ideas and beliefs.
- There was an outpouring of literature, especially cartoons and caricatures, which mocked the royalty and criticised their morality. It reflected how the monarchy remained absorbed only in sensual pleasures while the common people suffered immense hardships.
- Though print might not have directly shaped the minds of the people, it opened up the possibility of thinking differently.
→ The Nineteenth Century
The nineteenth century made vast leaps in mass literacy in Europe, bringing in large numbers of new readers among children, women and workers.
→ Children, Women and Workers
- As primary education became compulsory from the late nineteenth century, production of school textbooks became critical for the publishing industry. A children’s press, devoted to literature for children alone, was set up in France in 1857.
- The Grimm Brothers spent years compiling traditional folk tales gathered from the peasants. It was published in 1812.
- Women became important readers as well as writers. Some popular women authors were Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, George Eliot, etc. They projected women in a new form: a person with will, strength of personality and the power to think.
- Lending libraries became common and from the mid-nineteenth century, workers wrote political tracts and autobiographies in large numbers.
→ Further Innovations:
- Press came to be made out of metal by the late eighteenth century. By the mid-nineteenth century, Richard M. Hoe of New York had perfected the power-driven cylindrical press, which was capable of printing 8,000 sheets per hour.
- From the turn of the twentieth century, electrically operated presses accelerated printing operations.
- In the late nineteenth century the offset press was developed which could print upto six colours at a time.
- Nineteenth-century periodicals serialised important novels, which gave new way of writing novels.
→ India and the World of Print
- India had a very rich tradition of handwritten manuscripts in Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic as well as in various vernacular languages. Manuscripts continued to be produced till well after the introduction of print, down to | the late nineteenth century.
- Manuscripts were highly fragile and expensive, and had to be handled carefully.
→ Print Conies to India
- The printing press was first brought to Goa by the Portuguese missionaries in the mid-sixteenth century. Tamil and Malayalam books were printed by the Catholic (missionaries and Dutch Protestants, respectively.
- The first paper to appear was the Bengal Gazette by Gangadhar Bhattacharya.
→ Religious Reform and Public Debates:
- This was a time of intense controversies between social and religious reformers and the Hindu orthodoxy over matters like widow immolation, monotheism, Brahmanical priesthood and idolatory.
- Ram Mohan Roy published Sambad Kaumudiln 1821 and the Hindu orthodoxy commissioned Samachar Chandrika to oppose his opinions. From 1822 two Persian papers published were Jam-i-Jahan Nama and Shamshul Akhbar. Gujarati paper, Bombay Samachar was published.
- The Deoband Seminary, founded in 1867, published thousands of fatwas telling Muslim readers how to conduct themselves in everyday lives, and explaining the meanings of Islamic doctrines.
- Hindus encouraged the reading of religious texts, especially in vernacular languages. Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas was published from Calcutta in 1810.
- Religious texts reached a very wide circle of people, encouraging discussions, debates and controversies within and among different religions.
→ New Forms of Publication:
- New literary forms such as novels, lyrics, short stories, essays about political and social matters began to be read.
- By the end of the nineteenth century, a new visual culture was taking shape. Visual images through paintings, cartoons and caricatures began shaping popular ideas about modernity and tradition, religion and politics, and society and culture.
- Paintings of Raja Ravi Varma became well- known.
→ Women and Print:
- Women began to write and to be written about. Few family members were liberal, and the husbands and fathers arranged for the education of womenfolk at home and later in schools and colleges when those were set up.
- However, conservative Hindus and Muslims feared education of women. Hindus thought a literate woman would be widowed while the Muslims feared the women would be corrupted by Urdu romances.
- Rashsundari Debi, from orthodox household, learnt to read from the secrecy of her kitchen. She was the first to write a full-length autobiography Amar Jiban in Bengali. There were several other women writers like Kailashbashini Debi, Tarabai Shinde, Pandita Ramabai, etc.
- While Urdu, Tamil, Bengali and Marathi print culture developed early, Hindi printing began seriously only from the 1870s.
- Some early twentieth century journals discussed issues like women’s education, widowhood, widow remarriage and the national movement.
- Ram Chaddha published the fast-selling Istri Dharm Vichar to teach women how to be obedient wives. The Khalsa Tract Society published cheap booklets with a similar message. In Bengal, in central Calcutta, there was an area called the Battala which was devoted to the printing of popular books.
→ Print and the Poor People:
- From the late nineteenth century, issues of caste discrimination began to be written about. Jyotiba Phule wrote about the injustices of caste system in his Gulamgiri (1871). In the twentieth century, B.R. Ambedkar of Maharashtra and E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker in Madras wrote powerfully bn caste and their writings were read by people all over India.
- The workers also started reading and writing.
- Kashibaba, a mill worker from Kanpur wrote and published Chhote Aur Bade Ka Sawal in 1938 to show the links between caste and class exploitation. Sudarshan Chakr brought together and published Sacchi Kavitayan between 1935 and 1955.
→ Print and Censorship
- Before 1798, the colonial state under the East India Company was not too concerned with censorship.
- By the 1820s, the Calcutta Supreme Court passed certain regulations to control press freedom and the Company encouraged publication of news that would celebrate British rule. With petitions of editors from Engjish and vernacular newspapers, Governor-General Bentinck agreed to revise press laws. Thomas Macaulay, a liberal colonial official, formulated new rules that restored the earlier freedoms.
- After the Revolt of 1857, the enraged Englishmen demanded a clamp down on the
vernacular press. In 1878, the Vernacular Press Act was passed, based on Irish Press Laws. It allowed the government the extensive rights to censor reports and editorials in the vernacular press. Regular track was kept of the vernacular press of different regions, and if a report was seditious, it was warned. If not heeded, the press was liable to be seized and printing machinery confiscated.
- In spite of regulations, national newspapers increased in number and they reported of nationalist activities and encouraged nationalism. Tilak wrote with great sympathy in his paper Kesari. This led to his imprisonment in 1908, provoking in turn widespread protests all over India.