History of Reading

History of Reading

by Steven Roger Fischer
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

This final volume in the trilogy Language / Writing / Reading traces the complete story of reading from the time when symbol first became sign through to the electronic texts of the present day. After describing ancient forms of reading and the various modes that were necessary to understand different writing systems and scripts, Steven Roger Fischer covers China,

Overview

This final volume in the trilogy Language / Writing / Reading traces the complete story of reading from the time when symbol first became sign through to the electronic texts of the present day. After describing ancient forms of reading and the various modes that were necessary to understand different writing systems and scripts, Steven Roger Fischer covers China, Japan, the Americas and elsewhere, and examines the forms and developments of completely divergent dimensions of reading. With the Middle Ages in Europe and the Middle East, innovative re-inventions of reading emerged -- silent and liturgical reading, the use of spectacles, reading's focus in general education -- at which point printing transformed society's entire attitude to reading. Fischer charts the explosion of the book trade in this era, its audience and radically changed subject-matter; describes the emergence of broadsheets, newspapers and public readings; and traces the effect of changing fonts on general legibility. Discussing society's dedication to public literacy in the sweeping educational reforms of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, he notes the re-invigorated book trade, the appearance of free libraries, improved domestic lighting, gender differences in reading matter, public advertising and the 'forbidden' lists of Church, State and the unemancipated.

Fischer looks to the future where read communication may soon exceed oral communication because of personal computers, mobile phones and the Net. He concludes by looking at 'visual language' and modern theories of how reading is processed in the human brain. Asking how the New Reader can reshape reading's future, he suggests a radical new definition of what reading truly is. An internationally acclaimed expert on linguistic history and ancient writing systems, Fischer here offers to the general reader a highly accessible and exciting account of reading's millennial transformations.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The director of the Institute of Polynesian Languages and Literature, Auckland, New Zealand, and author of A History of Language (1999) and A History of Writing (2001), Fischer here completes his trilogy, part of the publisher's "Globalities" series. As novelist Alberto Manguel has done in his 1996 work of the same title, Fischer describes how literacy and printing developed in Asia, Europe, and the Americas and explores such modern-day phenomena as the ebook and text messaging on cellular telephones. But unlike Manguel, Fischer does not offer personal anecdotes, illustrations, or historical time lines. Overall, Fischer's historical narratives about the development of literature and literacy are engrossing; however, he occasionally offers opinions on topics that seem beyond his linguistic expertise, such as religious scholarship and even other literary areas. For example, he backs up one argument by referring to a newspaper article about Islamic scholars instead of a stronger resource. And when he discusses the composition of the Bible, he refers to two archaeologists' work rather than a respected textual scholar's overview of scholarship. These weaknesses are most apparent in the final chapter. One concludes that the author never comes to terms with his struggle to balance interdisciplinary scholarship with wide audience appeal. Those libraries already owning the previous two titles may wish to order the title to complete the trilogy; all others may safely pass.-Marianne Orme, Des Plaines P.L., IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781861892096
Publisher:
Reaktion Books, Limited
Publication date:
09/15/2004
Series:
Reaktion Books - Globalities Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author


Steven Roger Fischer is Director of the Institute of Polynesian Languages and Literatures in Auckland, New Zealand. A History of Reading is the final book in Fischer’s trilogy for Reaktion, which also includes A History of Language and A History of Writing.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >