A History of Reading

Steven Roger Fischer


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Reaktion Books
11 February 2019
ISBN: 9781789140682
416 pages

From the publisher

Tracing the complete story of reading from the age when symbol first became sign through to the electronic texts of the present day, Steven Roger Fischer's fascinating A History of Reading offers a sweeping view across time and geography of our evolving relationship with text. Turning to ancient forms of reading, Fischer takes us to Asia and the Americas and discusses the forms and developments of completely divergent writing systems and scripts. With the Middle Ages in Europe and the Middle East, innovative reinventions of reading emerged--silent and liturgical reading; the custom of lectors; a focus on reading in general education--whereupon printing transformed society's entire attitude toward reading. Fischer charts the explosion of the book trade, its increased audience, and radically changed subject-matter in this era. He also describes the emergence of broadsheets, newspapers, and public readings and traces the effect of new font designs on general legibility, and much more. Finally, Fischer assesses a future in which read communication will likely exceed oral communication through the use of the personal computer and the internet. Looking at "visual language" and modern theories of how reading is processed in the human brain, he asks how the New Reader can reshape reading's fate--suggesting a radical new definition of what reading could be.