HST 180/380: “Best Sellers” in the First Information Age

Course Description:

Today, the internet has made an unprecedented amount of information available to us.  But in the past, humans have experienced other “information revolutions.” The development of the printing press in Europe (c. 1450) permanently changed the ways that people communicated ideas. The printing press facilitated an exchange of knowledge on a scale that had not been possible ever before. In this course, we will study sixteenth- ad seventeenth-century Europe through reading some of the most popular books of the time, as well as more recent scholarly analyses of printing and its influence in early modern Europe.  We will consider what sorts of books European readers sought most frequently.  We also will explore the challenges that this newly accessible information posed for religious and political authorities. A major component of the class involves a collaborative research project between the students and the instructor.


Danny Wasserman