Rise of Literacy

Camille Flammarion: Astronomy in all its Forms

Beginning his career by claiming that there is life on other planets, Camille Flammarion had by the end of the 19th century become one of the most famous astronomers on the planet! Passionate about astronomy, he contributed to making this field accessible to all.

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Lighting the Way: How Illuminated Initials Guided Medieval Readers through Books

Many medieval manuscripts are full of decorated capital letters that add colour to the page. They come in all styles and sizes, but what exactly are they and what was their purpose?

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The Sinking of the Titanic – a Historic Press Panorama

In the early morning of 15 April 1912, one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history occurred. RMS Titanic – which was considered unsinkable – was on her maiden voyage in the North Atlantic when she collided with an iceberg.

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The Place of Literature in the World of Newspapers

In France, the important development of including literature in the press began with the launch of ‘La Presse‘ in 1836 by Emile de Girardin. He cut the subscription rate to his daily newspaper in half by speculating on advertising to cover the costs. 

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Emile Zola: Novelist and Journalist

A true writer-journalist, Emile Zola successfully managed both activities for about 20 years, at first out of financial necessity before he became a successful author, but also by conviction.

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Europe’s First Printed Book

How do we know what Europe’s first printed book was? Until the 18th century this question was open to speculation.15th-century printed books usually have no title page and do not always give the printer’s name.

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A Path to Literacy – Role of the Catechism in Learning to Read

For Protestant and Catholic communities of the past, learning the basics of faith and the basics of reading went quite naturally hand in hand. But were all early catechisms necessarily intended as reading primers? Children’s Education: a Point of Contention between Catholics and Protestants For Europeans at the start of the Early Modern Period, knowledge […]

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Use of Propaganda in World War I Postcards

Millions of postcards circulated during the First World War and influenced public opinion. It is not surprising that something as ordinary as a postcard was used by governments on all sides to either defend their own actions, to discredit the enemy and to rouse the masses to support their nation.  Within just three days of […]

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Arthurian Literature: Foundation for a Common History in Europe

No literary figure has stood the test of time quite like King Arthur. His story has inspired people across Europe for centuries. King Arthur: a Legendary Figure The earliest reference to Arthur can be found in ‘The Book of Aneirin’. Originally composed in the 6th century, Aneirin’s poem ‘Y Gododdin’ discusses the battle of Catraeth […]

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The ‘Romance of the Rose’: A Medieval Guide to Love

This poem about living and loving in medieval courts was both very popular and controversial in the late Middle Ages and throughout the Renaissance. Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, ‘Le Roman de la Rose’ (Paris, 2nd quarter of the 14th century) Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Français 1572, f. 3r, No […]

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Banned Authors – who got on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum?

Many noteworthy authors were put on the Index librorum prohibitorum because their works were seen to cause religious, political and moral controversies. Famous names on the Roman Index include: – Greek and the Roman authors like Ovid and Petronius – religious reformers like Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon, and Jean Calvin – humanists like Erasmus of […]

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International Literacy Day 2018 with Rise of Literacy project

On September 8, International Literacy Day, established by UNESCO, is celebrated around the world. This year’s theme is ‘Literacy and skills development’. Literacy is strongly connected to improving people’s life and the growth of societies but they are still persisting challenges despite the global progress. For several weeks on this blog we have been exploring how […]

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The Correspondence of Heloise and Abelard: Love, Friendship and Philosophy in the Middle Ages

What led to the most famous medieval correspondence? A thwarted love affair! The passionate relationship between Abelard and Heloise in 12th-century France was well-known even in the Middle Ages and has remained popular ever since. Left: Portrait of Peter Abelard, engraving by Charles Mauduit based on Le Carpentier, 1820, Bibliothèque nationale de France, No Copyright […]

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Travelling texts: information networks of the past

The invention of printing in the middle of the 15th century gave rise to the cross-cultural flow of texts throughout Europe. But complex webs of connections also developed later. The 18th-century Italian printer and publisher Remondini and its pedlars is a brilliant example. Remondini world map – Mappe Monde ou description du globe terrestre : […]

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How primary sources transcend time and transform our connection with history

If you want to know what was it like to live in the Florence of 1400, to discover how the monks of Novacella Monastery begun to produce wine or to trace the development of a public institution, you’ve got to go back to their documents. Texts like chronicles, memories and biographies as well as statutes, […]

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A Variety of Newspaper Formats

News is news, whether it appears in tabloids, broadsheets, newsbooks or the popular Berliner format. The reader is supposed to focus on the content and not the format. Nonetheless, each format was created with a specific intention and they have all influenced the newspapers we recognize today. Many historians agree that the world’s first newspaper […]

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