Communication, Knowledge, and Memory in Early Modern Spain

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University of Pennsylvania Press, May 17, 2004 - History - 108 pages
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In a provocative attempt to outline a history of communication during the Spanish Golden Age, Communication, Knowledge, and Memory in Early Modern Spain examines how speech, visual images, and written texts all interact as manifestations of the human desire to know and remember. Seeking to address the reductive opposition both between written and oral texts and between script and print in the Early Modern period, Fernando Bouza, one of Spain's most influential cultural historians, makes an elegant case for the equality and complementary natures of the various modes of communication. While the advent of printing is commonly thought to have resulted in the demise of the manuscript, Bouza upholds that the progress of textual culture in all its forms did not undermine the importance of other mediums of knowledge.

The history of the book and of reading is often considered separately from the history of the uses of writing and speech, but according to Bouza, the boundaries between the spheres are artificial constructions that fail to honor the realities of the transfer of knowledge and information. While recognizing that reading and writing belong to two distinct models of acculturation, Bouza refuses to accept the myth that has identified rationality and modernity with written culture only, while the languages of images and the practices of orality are relegated to the past. Considering the uses of text, image, and speech in social settings ranging from the most humble to the most aristocratic, he argues that orality is as strongly present in the world of the court as in popular milieux, that the image was put to uses both naive and learned, and that writing—far from a privilege of the powerful—touched the lives of even the illiterate.

This original and brilliant book is bound to transform current understandings of the intellectual practices of the Golden Age.


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A Voice The Wonder of Images
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Classrooms Libraries and Archives as the Culmination
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About the author (2004)

Fernando Bouza is a Professor in the Department of Early Modern History at the Complutensian University in Madrid. He is author of a number of books, including Imagen y propaganda: capitulos de historia cultural del reinado de Felipe II, and Del escribano a la biblioteca. Roger Chartier is Directeur d'etudes at the ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales, Professor in the College de France, and Annenberg Visiting Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of numerous books, including Forms and Meanings: Texts, Performances, and Audiences from Codex to Computer, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

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