Either way you look at it, the printing press led to revolutionary changes in both the social and art world. In Burke’s piece, he states, “the church was the main source of information” (2). If you wanted to know something, religious or not, you would have to go to the church. Everyone went, so you would find out the local news by word of mouth, stained glass windows depicted Biblical stories, and the priest delivered sermons. Mumford states in his piece that, “the first application of printing was in the domain of art, the printing of woodcuts” (75). From there, printing would turn to manuscripts. Because of the printing press, people could read religious works, the daily news, and see art without having to travel every Sunday.
While the printing press did a lot of good, it also did a lot of bad as well. With it came the destruction of oral tradition, and the feudal system. Burke talked of how before books, news came in the forms of travelling troubadours, people travelled in groups with no maps, and scholars used “memory theaters” to remember vast quantities of material. With the invention of the printing press, the availability of books and manuscripts changed everything. Manuscripts of daily events could be mass-produced and hand delivered to people, such as the theses of Luther. Anyone could travel by themselves with the use of maps. With the production of how-to books, peasants could learn how to act like nobility, which angered the upper class. The common man was able to gain access to a culture he had never known before. Eisenstein also states that with books came the “silent instructor” (83). In medieval times, instructors spoke lectures in Latin, and students would have to follow along, writing everything he said. Naturally, that leaves plenty of room for error, depending on factors such as how fast the teacher was talking or how slow a student was writing. With books, there was no need to speaking aloud. Students could copy notes from them with ease. Not to mention, but books were available in many languages, which lead to Latin now having the status of a “dead” language.