MU professor to discuss effects of printing press

Monday, September 21, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — A. Mark Smith realizes that many people think reading medieval manuscripts is difficult, but he hopes to prove them wrong Wednesday when he delivers this year’s 21st Century Corps of Discovery Lecture at MU.

“I’m going to try to show people that it’s not true, that anybody can do it,” Smith said. “It takes a little concentration, a little time and a little effort, but it’s a human thing.”

If you go

What: "More Than Meets the Eye: What Made the 'Printing Revolution Revolutionary," this year's 21st Century Corps of Discovery Lecture, by A. Mark Smith

When: 3:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Keller Auditorium, Geology Building, on the northwest end of Francis Quadrangle, MU.

The 21st Century Corps of Discovery Lecture is an annual event where a professor who has made a significant contribution to their field presents a topic to the academic community. It is sponsored by the College of Arts and Science.                                    

Smith, curators' professor of History, will talk about the effect the printing press had on the way texts were read and understood in the late 16th century.

“The whole technology of print and movable type and presses is fascinating,” he said. “The inks, the paper, all of that stuff I find extremely interesting.”

The printing press was responsible for providing the public with greater access to standardized texts, allowing information to be shared in a timelier manner.

Smith said technology has changed people's reading habits beyond the easy answer of computers and the Internet. He said it’s the far older, far smaller things such as eyeglasses that had just as much of an impact on society.

“It’s a very small technology, but it’s a technology that had absolutely revolutionary consequences,” he said.

Smith said the main thing he hopes people take away from his lecture is that all things are possible.

“It may not be simple in details, but conceptually it’s extremely simple,” he said. “All things worth doing are that way.”

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