0.11 Past and Future Histories

Vernacular textbooks often seem less problematic on first examination than Latin schoolbooks because the non-Latin books were in fact prototypes for the textbooks that we are still using in the age of electronic literacy. But even in vernacular fields, textbooks tended (and still tend) to lag somewhat behind substantive advances in theory and practice. I hope that my study of the increasing divide between Latin and non-Latin books in the sixteenth century will offer useful parallels to the problems of textbook production in our own twenty-first century.

Textbooks (then as now) were tools, so it should come as no surprise that the history I have attempted in this online book is a pragmatic one, concerned with the field where the practices of teachers and those of printers intersected. It will offer little beyond raw data to those interested primarily in literary theory or philosophy, and still less for intellectual history in the old fashioned sense of great ideas embodied in great books. Nonetheless, I hope this volume will offer a useful collection of case studies for scholars interested in the histories of printing, education, psychology, and language. And of course, advertising and selling books.

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