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PUB 401 – Short Essay
September 20, 2016|Uncategorized

PUB 401 – Short Essay

Print Culture (Other Than Codex): Job Printing and Its Importance


In the introduction of Lisa Gitelman’s chapter of Print Culture (Other Than Codex): Job Printing and Its Importance breaks down in detail of print culture that is not impacted by codex, everything other than codex. Gitelman briefly examines the relationship of codex and non codex and how each relates to often broad and ambiguous concept of print culture. Gitelman recognizes the difficulties of measuring print culture that is associated with print, printers, and job printing. Therefore, as Gitelman claims that “print is not one thing; it is, has been, and will be many,” print culture makes sense by examining the “specific structures and practices within those forms have come to make sense at different times and among different social groups (Gitelman, L., 2013, p. 194).


Gitelman tries to break down the concept of print culture through her analysis of non codex materials in the industry. She points out that print culture associated with print with non codex materials proves difficult to analyze giving “the codex has proved a particularly effective technology for preserving print,” yet non codex materials compared to condex are ephemera (Gitelman, L., 2013, p. 187). She argues that print culture itself has only been refer to book culture, which in effect ignores all aspects of print that aren’t books, non codex, such as account-book headings, ball tickets, bank notices, bonds, to name a few. As Gitelman analyzes the aspects of print culture associated with codex she argues that print culture is largely impacted by the users of non codex aspects of the industry. She points out that majority of non codex materials are for “businesses doing business, they were intended to function as instruments of corporate speech” (Gitelman, L., 2013, p. 190). She argues that nobody close reads non codex materials and said that non codex didn’t have readers, but they had users instead. Lastly, Gitelman uses the term job printing to narrow the definition of print culture through the printing trades. She explains that job printing of non codex seems to have been only for just printing, and not publication.


Through this reading/essay, I learned a little about print culture by examining codex and other than codex. Lisa Gitelman used defines codex and other than codex to help readers understand the goals of her analysis. Gitelman also used a few concepts for example ephemera to help readers grasp an understanding of the types of medium that she was analyzing for print culture and print. Within the essay Gitelman tries to break down the concepts by first exploring the history of codex and non codex materials and the technologies used to produce and reproduce them, for example, letterpress printing. As Gitelman says that “relatively few indulgences, broadsides, or other unbound printed sheets have survived to the present” (Gitelman, L., 2013, p. 187), just by looking into the history of the medium of print culture, there were many reasons why a couple of indulgences surviving in the present day. Is there another reason why some non codex materials have not survive to the present day? In the past codex was the important medium for means of communication and knowledge. The codex has been the important medium that we tend to forget that it did start at a time where it did not exist before. For example, Gitelman describes the older formats before the codex was scrolls or manuscripts. Since scrolls, manuscripts, etc. were basically earlier versions of codex they were also important media of knowledge and communication during that era. During these eras, many wars happened, and majority of these wars was caused by religion. Religion heavily relied on these media to connect with these followers and need it in order to survive. Many groups that did not agree to these religion will try everything in their power to get rid of the religion. Many media including scrolls, manuscripts, or everything printed on easily burn materials were destroyed. To put into context, Christian burnings, around AD 325, Roman emperor Constantine the Great issued that anything that had to do with Arians (Arian concept of Christ is that the Son of God did not always exist but was created by God the Father) would be burned and destroyed. He even issued great lengths for any writing composed by Arius (priest in Alexandria, Eygpt, first teaching of Arian) to be brought it forward and be destroyed by fire. The point I am trying to convey is that print culture during the era when codex was not the norm could still have a large impact on society during those times. 

Gitelman claims that print is not one thing, it is, has been, and will be many, given her analysis on the subject what is the future of print? Would codex will still have a place within a digital savvy world and will that digital culture alter the way we view other than codex materials? Even though we as individuals are accustomed to having print in our everyday life, did not really thought about how the idea of print has have such a massive impact on cultural change and evolution of all media.

Gitelman, L., Hayles, K.,  & Pressman, J. (2013). Print Culture (Other Than Codex): Job Printing and Its Importance. Comparative textual media: Transforming the humanities in the postprint era, Volume 42, 183-197. London: University of Minnesota Press.


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