Originally published in 2003, this book ranges over private and public reading, and over a variety of religious, social, and scientific communities to locate acts of reading in specific historical moments from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. It also charts the changes in reading habits that reflect broader social and political shifts during the period. A team of expert contributors cover topics including the processes of book production and distribution, audiences and markets, the material text, the relation of print to performance, and the politics of acts of reception. In addition, the volume emphasises the independence of early modern readers and their role in making meaning in an age in which increased literacy equaled social enfranchisement and interpretation was power. Meaning was not simply an authorial act but the work of many hands and processes, from editing, printing, and proofing, to reproducing, distributing, and finally reading.

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