This important book provides a comparative study of the growth and impact of mass literacy across Europe between 1750 and 1950.
The volume outlines the main features of the comparative growth of literacy, and relates them to the later growth of electronic media.
It assesses the ways in which mass literacy has transformed ways of living and thinking, by exploring broader social and cultural issues such as gender, age, consciousness of time and space, and our relationship with the natural world. Vincent begins by considering the evolution of methods of teaching and learning across the centuries, and examines the relationship between literacy and economic growth, including the changing function of literacy in the workplace.
He discusses the changing pattern of demand for and provision of reading matter, as well as the changing relationship between oral and written modes of generating and reproducing both information and fantasy.
In later chapters, Vincent analyses the history of popular writing, and the relationship between print, language and national identity.
The impact of literacy on democracy and political mobilization, and on the making of censorship and propaganda, is also discussed in this lively and accessible study.