Approaches to the History of Written Culture

A World Inscribed

  • Martyn Lyons
  • Rita Marquilhas

Part of the New Directions in Book History book series (NDBH)

About this book


"Approaches to the History of Written Culture is a volume of breadth and ambition. It covers all periods from the second millennium BC to the late twentieth-century, a wide range of geographies, and deploys a challenging body of theoretical and methodological approaches to the topic of scribal cultures and practices." — David Vincent, Emeritus Professor of Social History, The Open University, UK

This book investigates the history of writing as a cultural practice in a variety of contexts and periods. It analyses the rituals and practices determining intimate or ‘ordinary’ writing as well as bureaucratic and religious writing. From the inscribed images of ‘pre-literate’ societies, to the democratization of writing in the modern era, access to writing technology and its public and private uses are examined. In ten studies, presented by leading historians of scribal culture from seven countries, the book investigates the uses of writing in non-alphabetical as well as alphabetical script, in societies ranging from Native America and ancient Korea to modern Europe. The authors emphasise the material characteristics of writing, and in so doing they pose questions about the definition of writing itself. Drawing on expertise in various disciplines, they give an up-to-date account of the current state of knowledge in a field at the forefront of ‘Book History’.


Book history Culture Writing Scribal Oral

Editors and affiliations

  • Martyn Lyons
    • 1
  • Rita Marquilhas
    • 2
  1. 1.University of New South Wales SydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Centro de LinguísticaUniversidade de LisboaLisboaPortugal

Bibliographic information