“This book is a scholarly anthology of articles by experts in every different historical period. Taken together, these articles trace chronologically the ways in which reading has changed, starting with reading aloud in classical Greece to the shift from the scroll to the book in the Roman world. Then you have the growth of silent reading in the Middle Ages. One of the continuities that emerges is the sense that reading progressively becomes less embodied. Roman writers talk about reading as a healthy form of physical exercise, because you read standing up and you use your voice. Whereas today we often think of it as a virtual out of body experience.
Reading about these different historical periods, you can also see reading move indoors. In Greece and Rome, people read in gardens, in public squares and in the street. In the Middle Ages the place of reading shifted to monks’ cells, to churches and to courts. And then in the modern age the space of reading shifted again once rail travel was invented. That gave people a whole new window of opportunity for reading – reading in a horse-drawn carriage would make you nauseous, but trains are smooth and well lit. Reading became public once more.” Read more...
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