In what ways did Gutenberg’s printing press impact change in Europe and the world?

What exactly were Johannes Gutenberg's inventions and innovations? How did it impact the printing process?

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The Arab Spring, Black Lives Matter, the 2016 Presidential Campaign, are all recent events, which were driven by social media. Though Twitter was only recently invented, the movement of technology-driven mass communication began in the mid-1400s when Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type and the printing press. The Printing Press Inquiry Unit focuses on the technology of mass communication, beginning with paper, typeset, and the printing press, and ends with social media apps like Twitter. Students will analyze primary and secondary source documents and engage in hands-on Formative Performance Tasks as they explore the connections between mass communication technology and the dissemination of ideas that promote social, cultural, political and economic change.

The downloadable background information provides an extensive timeline of the printing press, with highlights on woodblock printing, movable type, papermaking, and Gutenberg’s inventions. It contains insight on scriptorias and how books were written and copied by hand prior to the printing press, and gives examples of illuminations and miniatures. In addition, there is information on Gutenberg’s press, from his vision of the press itself, on typeset and molds, as well as what types of books were printed. Finally the PDF provides context on the vernacular used, the diffusion of printing, and the knowledge and information revolution.


Supporting Questions

  • STEM Interdisciplinary – Classroom Paper Recycling: From TryEngineering, “Lesson focuses on how engineers and others have developed and improved the manufacturing of recycled paper”

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  • STEM Interdisciplinary – Graphics: Calculating Color: From TryEngineering, “In a digital world we take color for granted. Through off-computer activities, students learn the difference between additive and subtractive color, and how images are generated on screen and transferred to physical print.”

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  • Texas A&M University Library
  • The Printing Museum – Houston