From the Back Cover
Very few people could read and write in the Europe of 1500. By 1800 the era of mass literacy had already arrived. This change was momentous, yet we take it for granted. Even as one of the most significant developments in the history of our own era, it is surprisingly little known or understood. Literacy changed the face of the continent.
`Literacy in Early Modern Europe¿ shows the ways in which education and literacy relate to political, economic and social structures, and provides a shrewd analysis of the expansion of literacy across different countries and its uses and impact on early modern Europe. It relates reading and writing to popular culture in general. Focusing on the experience of ordinary men and women, rather than just the privileged and exceptional elites, and drawing on material in all European languages, this book remains a landmark in European history.
This second edition is substantially rewritten and extended. There is a fuller review of the nature of literacy; sections exploring numeracy; additional material on orality and the language of sign and gesture. The world of sound and song is introduced as well as the reading and reception of literature. Most critically, the scope of the book is broader geographically and richer in its revelation of the emergence of a literate people.
R.A. Houston is Professor of History at the University of St Andrews and the author of many books, including `The New Penguin History of Scotland¿ (2001) and `Madness and Society in Eighteenth Century Scotland¿ (2000).
About the Author
R A Houston is Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews.