Cultures of Print: Essays in the History of the Book

Cultures of Print: Essays in the History of the Book

Cultures of Print: Essays in the History of the Book

Cultures of Print: Essays in the History of the Book

Synopsis

"Hall expertly lays out the state of our knowledge in the areas of printing, literacy, reading, and the interchange between learned and popular culture in early America. He then argues for a new approach to the early American cultures of print. By stressing how print was used rather than dwelling on quantitative studies of book production and distribution, Hall sketches a fuller, more human picture of early American culture".

Excerpt

The English came late as colonists to the new world. a century after the Spanish embarked on the conquest and colonization of the Americas, the Virginia Company of London, chartered in 1606, dispatched a group of colonists in 1607 to the coast of Virginia. Early on, the chances of success at Jamestown seemed little greater than they had been for the "lost colony" of Roanoake, attempted in the 1580s in Albemarle Sound. An adverse disease environment, the hostility of local Indians, and shortages of food caused near-catastrophic rates of sickness and death, and failures of leadership made matters worse. Even so, the stockholders in the Virginia Company continued to finance shipments of people and supplies in the hope of carrying out an expansive economic program directed at the production of silk, glass, wine and iron. Individual entrepreneurs, using dividends of land grants from the Company, turned instead to raising tobacco. the high price it brought in Europe ensured that the economy became oriented around an export, "staple" crop. To the north, a separate political jurisdiction was created in 1632 when Charles I awarded Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, a former royal bureaucrat, the territory that Calvert named Maryland. Here too, tobacco became the basis of the economy. Immi-

Written for volume one of The History of the Book in America, to be published by Cambridge University Press.

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