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Afterword: Rethinking Western Printing With Chinese Comparisons

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Chapter Summary

In both Europe and China printing increased the speed with which multiple copies of a text, map, or image could be produced, though the technology and economics involved in the use of woodblock versus movable metal type were different in important ways. Printing in China, primarily by woodblock, presented different "affordances" from metal movable type used for printing text in Europe. The government played a uniquely powerful role in China, notably in launching in the late-tenth century the large scale collection and printing of the classics, but also throughout the period medical texts, gazetteers, and histories, among other genres. Historical assessments of the impact of printing are best carried out with attention to specific cultural contexts, to the range of contemporary disagreements, and of historical arguments and counterarguments.

Keywords:China printing; cultural contexts



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