Monday , May 23 2022

Print Culture And The Modern World: 10 SST

Question: Why did some people in the eighteenth century Europe think that print culture would bring enlightenment and end despotism?
Assess the impact of print revolution on the European society.


  1. Spreading of new ideas: After the coming of the print culture, the ideas of scientists and philosophers now became more accessible to the common people. Ancient and medieval scientific texts were compiled and published.
  2. Scientific discoveries: Maps and more accurate scientific diagrams were widely printed. When scientists like Issac Newton began to publish their discoveries, they could influence a much wider circle of scientifically-minded readers.
  3. Writings of scholars: The writings of thinkers such as Thomas Paine, Voltaire and Jean Jacques Rousseau were also widely printed, and could gain popularity. Thus, their ideas about science, reasoning and rationality found their way into popular literature.
  4. Books as medium of progress: By the mid-18th century, books became a medium of spreading progress and enlightenment which could change the society and the world. It was also believed that the books could literate society from despotism and tyranny.
  5. Ideas of enlightened thinkers: The print popularized the ideas of the enlightened thinkers like that of Martin Luther who attacked the authority of the Church and the despotic power of the state, e.g., Voltaire and Rousseau.
  6. A new culture of dialogue and debate: The print created a new culture of dialogue and debate and the public, became aware of reasoning and recognized the need to question the existing ideas and beliefs.

Question: Give reasons for the following:
(a) Woodblock print only came to Europe after 1295.
(b) Martin Luther was in favor of print, and spoke out in praise of it.
(c) The Roman Catholic Church began keeping an Index of Prohibited books from the mid-sixteenth century.
(d) Gandhi said the fight for ‘Swaraj is a fight for the liberty of speech, liberty of the press and freedom of association.


  1. (i) Paper reached Europe through the Silk Route in the 11th century.
    (ii) In 1295, Marco Polo, a great explorer, returned to Italy after many years of exploration in China. He brought with him the knowledge of woodblock printing.
    (iii) Italy began producing with woodblocks, and soon the technology spread to other parts of Europe.
  2. Because it was the printing press which gave him a chance to criticism many of the practices and rituals of the Roman Catholic Church.
  3. Print and popular literature encouraged many distinctive interpretations of religious faiths and ideas. In the 16th century, Manocchio, a miller in Italy began to read books available readily in his locality. He gave a new interpretation of the Bible, and formulated a view of God, and creation that enraged the Roman Catholic Church.
    As a result, Manocchio was hauled up twice, and ultimately executed when the Roman Church began its inquisition, and to repress the therapeutical ideas. After this several control measures were imposed on publishers and booksellers. In 1558, the Roman Church decided to maintain an Index of prohibited books.
  4.  Mahatma Gandhi uttered these words in 1922 during the Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-1922). Because according to him without the liberty of speech, the liberty of the press and freedom of association, no nation can even survive. If the country was to get free from foreign domination, then these liberties were quite important. If there is no liberty of speech, liberty of press and freedom of association, then there is no nationalism. Nationalism requires these three prerequisites for its survival. Mahatma Gandhi fully knew the fact. That is why, he said so, particularly about these three freedoms. How could one ever think of nationalism in the absence of these three essential conditions.

Question: Write short notes to show that you know about:
(1) The Gutenberg Press.
(2) The Erasmus’s idea of the printed book.
(3) The Vernacular Press Act.


  1. Johann Gutenberg was a German goldsmith and inventor, credited with the inventing of the movable type printing in Europe.Gutenberg was the son of a merchant, and his childhood was spent on a large agricultural estate. From his childhood, he had seen wine and olive presses. By and by, he learnt the art of polishing stones, became a master goldsmith, and also acquired the expertise to create lead moulds used for making trinkets. (Trinket-A small item of jewellery that is cheap or of low quality). Using this knowledge, Gutenberg adapted the existing technology to design his innovation. The olive press became the base model for the printing press and moulds were used for casting the metal types for the letters of the alphabet. By 1448, Gutenberg perfected the system. In 1455, Gutenberg published his 42-lines Bible, commonly known as the Gutenberg Bible. About 180 copies were printed most on paper and some on vellum.
  2. Erasmus’s idea of the printed book: Erasmus, a Latin scholar and a Catholic reformer, who criticized the excesses of Catholicism, but kept his distance from, Luther, expressed a deep anxiety about printing. He wrote in Adages (1508): ‘To what corner of the world do they not fly, these swarms of new books ? It may be that one here and there contributes something worth knowing, but the very multitude of them is hurtful to scholarship, because it creates a glut and even in good things, satiety is most harmful… [printers] fill the world with books, not just trifling things (such as I write, perhaps), but stupid, ignorant, slanderous, scandalous, raving, irreligious and seditious books, and the number of them is such that even the valuable publications lose their value.’
  3. The Vernacular Press Act: The revolt of 1857 forced the government to curb the freedom of the press. After the revolt, enraged Englishmen demanded a clamp down on the ‘native’ press. As vernacular newspapers became assertively nationalist, the colonial government began debating measures of strict control.
    In 1878, the Vernacular Press Act was passed, on the model of Irish Press Laws. It provided the government with extensive rights to censor reports and editorials in the vernacular press. The government started keeping regular track of the vernacular newspapers published in different provinces. When a report was judged as seditious, the newspapers were given a warning and if the warning was ignored, the press was liable to be seized, and the printing machinery could be confiscated.

Question: What did the spread of print culture in the nineteenth century India mean to:
(1) Women
(2) The poor
(3) Reformers


  1. Women:

    (i) Women as readers: Lives and feelings of women began to be written in intense ways. So women became important as readers. Penny magazines were especially meant for women, as were manuals teaching proper behaviour and housekeeping.

    (ii) Women as writers: Many women novelists like Jane Austin, Bronte Sisters, George Eliot wrote about women. Novels and other journals began exploring the world of women – their emotions, identities, their experiences and problems. The writings of woman became important in defining a new type of woman – a person with will, strength of personality, determination and the power to think.

    (iii) Novels and books on women: As the readership of women was increasing publishers started producing novels and journals for women. Many journals began carrying writings by women, and explained why women should be educated.

  2. The poor:

    (I) Who was Johann Gutenberg ? Publishers started producing small and cheap books. These books were sold at crossroads. Public libraries were set up by the Christian missionaries and the rich people.

    (II) Highlighting the issue of class discrimination: From the late 19th century, many writers started writing about the issue of class distinction.

    (i) Jyotiba Phule was a social reformer. He wrote about the poor condition of ‘low caste’. In his book Gulamgiri (1871), he wrote about the injustices of the caste system.

    (ii) In the 20th century, B.R. Ambedkar also wrote powerfully against the caste system. He also wrote against untouchability.

    (iii) E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker, also known as Periyar, too wrote about the caste system prevailing in Madras (Chennai). The writings of these writers were read by people all over India. Local protest movements and sects also created a lot of popular journals and tracts criticizing ancient scriptures with a view to creating new and just future.

    (iv) Poor workers and the print: Workers in factories were too overworked, and thus, lacked the education to write about their expectations and experiences. But Keshibaba, a Kanpur mill worker wrote and published Chhote Aur Bade Ka Sawal in 1938 to depict the links between caste and class exploitation. The poems of another Kanpur mill worker, who wrote under the name of Sudarshan Chakra between 1935 and 1955, were brought together, and published in a collection called Sacchi Kavitayain. By the 1930s, Bangaluru cotton mill workers set up libraries to educate themselves. By doing so, they were following the example of Bombay (Mumbai) workers. These libraries were sponsored by social reformers who tried to restrict excessive drinking among the poor, to bring literacy and, sometimes, to propagate the message of nationalism.

  3. (i) Reformers used newspapers, journals and books to highlight the social evils prevailing in the society. Raja Ram Mohan Roy published the Sambad Kaumudi to highlight the plight of widows.

    (ii) From the 1860s, many Bengali women writers like Kailashbashini Debi wrote books highlighting the experiences of women about how women were imprisoned at home, kept in ignorance, forced to do hard domestic labour and treated unjustly by the menfolk, they served.

    In the 1880s, in the present day Maharashtra, Tarabai Shinde and Pandita Ramabai wrote with passionate anger about the miserable lives of the upper-caste Hindu women, especially the widows. The poor status of women was also expressed by the Tamil writers.

    (iii) Jyotiba Phule was a social reformer. He wrote about the poor condition of the ‘low caste’. In his book Gulamgiri (1871), he wrote about the injustices of the caste system.

    In the 20th century, B.R. Ambedkar also wrote powerfully against the caste system. He also wrote against untouchability.

    E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker, also known as Periyar, too wrote about the caste system prevailing in Madras (Chennai).

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