The Creation of Mass Media: Choe Yun-ui’s Printing Press
Jikji, a collection of Korean Zen Buddhist teachings, is the world’s oldest extant book printed with movable type; not the Gutenberg Bible
Table of Contents
The Printing Press
by Sophia Newman (2019, Lithub) “[Assume Direct Quotes]”
“The first overtures towards printing that began around roughly 800 AD, in China, where early printing techniques involving chiseling an entire page of text into a wood block backwards, applying ink, and printing pages by pressing them against the block. Around 971 AD, printers in Zhejiang, China, produced a print of a vast Buddhist canon called the Tripitaka with these carved woodblocks, using 130,000 blocks (one for each page). Later efforts would create early movable type — including the successful but inefficient use of ideograms chiseled in wood and a brief, abortive effort to create ceramic characters.
Meanwhile, imperial imports from China brought these innovations to Korean rulers called the Goryeo (the people for whom Korea is now named), who were crucial to the next steps in printing history. Their part of the story is heavy with innovation in the face of invasion.
First, in 1087 AD, a group of nomads called the Khitans attempted to invade the Korean peninsula. This prompted the Goryeo government to create its own Tripitaka with woodblock printing, perhaps with the aim of preserving Korean Buddhist identity against invaders. The attempt would be prescient; it preserved the concept and technique for later years, when more invaders eventually arrived.
In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Mongol ruler Genghis Khan had created the largest empire in human history, which stretched from the Pacific coast of Asia west to Persia. After he died in 1227, his successor, Ögedei Khan, continued conquering, including gaining ground that Genghis Khan had never held. In 1231, Ögedei ordered the invasion of Korea, and in 1232, invading Mongol troops reached the capital. As part of their conquering, they burned the Korean copy of the Tripitaka to ash.
The Goryeo dynasty immediately recreated the book. This is thought to have been “as prayers to the power of Buddhas for the protection of the nation from the invading Mongols,” per a text by Thomas Christensen, but it was also done with the intention of preserving the dynasty’s culture. This was important; attacks by Mongols would continue for the next 28 years.
The Tripitaka reboot was scheduled to take Korean monks until 1251 AD to complete, and, meanwhile, the rulers began expanding into printing other books.
Choe Yun-ui (1234 AD) (Still quoting Newman, 2019)
In 1234 AD, they asked a civil minister named Choe Yun-ui to print a Buddhist text called The Prescribed Ritual Text of the Past and Present (Sangjeong Gogeum Yemun). But the lengthy book would have required an impossibly large number of woodblocks, so Choe came up with an alternative.
Building on earlier Chinese attempts to create movable type, he adapted a method that had been used for minting bronze coins to cast 3-dimensional characters in metal. Then he arranged these pieces in a frame, coated them with ink, and used them to press sheets of paper. When he was done, he could reorganize the metal characters, eliminating the need to persistently chisel blocks. It was faster — to a certain extent. He completed the project in 1250 AD.
Perhaps it should be Choe Yun-ui whose name we remember, not Johannes Gutenberg’s for inventing the printing press. Choe Yun-ui did that 150 years before Gutenberg was even born.
It is important to recognize what this means. The innovation that Johannes Gutenberg is said to have created was small metal pieces with raised backwards letters, arranged in a frame, coated with ink, and pressed to a piece of paper, which allowed books to be printed more quickly. But Choe Yun-ui did that — and he did it 150 years before Gutenberg was even born. The fantastical idea that Gutenberg alone invented the printing press ignores an entire continent and several centuries of relevant efforts.
It is only very recently, mostly in the last decade, that their viewpoint and the Asian people who created printing technologies have begun to be acknowledged at all. ”
However, Korea’s printed books did not spread at a rapid pace, as Gutenberg’s books would 200 years later. Notably, Korea was under invasion, which hampered their ability to disseminate their innovation. In addition, Korean writing, then based closely on Chinese, used a large number of different characters, which made creating the metal pieces and assembling them into pages a slow process. Most importantly, Goryeo rulers intended most of its printing projects for the use of nobility alone.
Movable-type Uyghur-language prints have been discovered in the [western Mongol Empire], indicating the technology was used there.
As Davis notes in The Lost Gutenberg, these records are the means by which we know Gutenberg and his Bible: “This most famous of books has origins that we know little about. The stories we tell about the man, and how the Bibles came to be, have been cobbled together from a fistful of legal and financial records, and centuries of dogged scholarly fill-in-the-blank.
The earliest extant movable-type-printed book is the Korean Baegun Hwasang Chorok Buljo Jikji Simche Yojeo (“The Anthology of Great Buddhist Priests’ Zen Teachings”). It dates to 1377 and has served as a starting point for scholarship on the origin of movable type.”
The Printing Press & Gender
Alissa McAlpine, 2015 (direct quote)
“Europe was firmly established as a patriarchy in the 16th century. Women, in general, did not work outside of the home and were often viewed as political pawns. The rise of the printing industry, however, created an opportunity for women to start to be heard more and more. In addition,
printing created jobs that women could take outside the home that were socially acceptable.
One example of the varied roles women played in the printing industry is in The Mother’s Legacie, to her Unborne Childe by Elizabeth Jocelene, which had women involved in all of the processes of writing, printing, and publishing.
Up until this point there were women who could read and write and did so frequently, but these women were almost always members of the highest social classes and their ideas were not viewed as equal to those of men. It is also important to note that female literacy rates were drastically lower than those among men. This changed somewhat as general literacy rates rose, but it remained highly uneven despite these developments.
Utilitarianism Example → Some women chose to write and publish under a male pseudonym in order to be taken more seriously. Some recognizable names from the 18th century such as
George Elliot and George Sand
were pseudonyms for female authors who preferred to publish under a male name (Eleanor Blau, 1989).
This practice continued and evolved with the advent of printing, allowing for women to release their ideas to the public.
With the new print culture, women were involved with the production of books in all areas.
Writing, printing, stitching, binding, and distributing were all acceptable fields in which women could participate.
While true centralized efforts for gender equality would not arise until much later, the change in attitude that surrounded the establishment of the printing industry allowed for a change in political station on the part of women in general (Joad Raymond, 2004).”
Sarah Werner, 2020: “Working toward a Feminist Printing History”
— In John Smith’s 1755 The Printer’s Grammar the laboring bodies have disappeared, as Maruca points out, but a rigid gender hierarchy remains to govern appropriate typeface choices: the strong, upright roman face should be used for the main text, with the delicate, flowing italic used only to decorate within the roman context.
As Wendy Wall shows in The Imprint of Gender, the potential effeminization of male authors being pressed was some source of anxiety, one that Anthony Scoloker deploys in the introduction to his 1604 Daiphantus:
He is A man in Print, and tis enough he hath under-gone a Pressing (yet not like a Ladie) though for your sakes and for Ladyes, protesting for this poore Infant of his Brayne, as it was the price of his Virginitie borne into the world in teares. . . . Thus like a Lover wooes he for your Favor, which if You grant then Omnia vincit Amor.21
The author might be a man in print, but he is not pressed as a lady is pressed — it is the book that is pressed, and the author who does the pressing.
Timeline of the Evolution of Mass Media (NIMCJ, 2019)
(by Josh Jones, 2019)
The oldest extant text ever printed with movable type predates Gutenberg himself (born in 1400) by 23 years, and predates the printing of his Bible by 78 years. It is the Jikji, printed in Korea, a collection of Buddhist teachings by Seon master Baegun and printed in movable type by his students Seok-chan and Daijam in 1377. (Seon is a Korean form of Chan or Zen Buddhism.) Only the second volume of the printing has survived, and you can see several images from it here.
Impressive as this may be, the Jikji does not have the honor of being the first book printed with movable type, only the oldest surviving example. The technology could go back two centuries earlier. Margaret Davis nods to this history, Newman concedes, writing that “movable type was an 11th century Chinese invention, refined in Korea in 1230, before meeting conditions in Europe that would allow it to flourish.
UNESCO only certified Jikji as the “oldest movable metal type printing evidence” in 2001. The recognition may be late in coming, but it matters a great deal, nonetheless. Learn much more about the history, content, and provenance of Jikji at this site created by “cyber diplomats” in Korea after UNESCO bestowed World Heritage status on the book. And see a fully digitized copy of the book here.”
Reading Games (Kristy Westaway, 2021)
While it may seem that the move between old-media writing and new-media writing (Novitz 2020) is just changing the surface on which we are obtaining the words to read, exploring digital platforms can offer many unforeseen positives.
While video games are still often seen as immature hobbies, or for children only, there have been many positive outcomes from the move to the digital landscape. Antzaka et al. (2017) studied the improvement in ‘attentional components’ and also the ‘reading fluency’ in children when linked with playing Action video games, despite the games and books seeming to be very different mediums.
In my personal experience of this, my 6-year-old hates sitting down and reading books, but when he’s reading dialogue or narrative subtitles in games, he flies through the sentences without thinking about the individual words. Using the digital platform gives him the confidence that he doesn’t exhibit when made to read out of a hardcopy book.
Fictocriticism (also Kristy Westaway)
“The concept of fictocriticism seems to be a way to tell a story that the author cannot fit into a classic genre, to “tell a story that is fragmented and full if(sp) incidentals” (Hecq 2009) by framing it as a critique. Hecq describes it as “inherently political”, but it just reads as a way to publish an unfinished story plan and give it an air of importance by making it a ‘critical response’ to a person, group, or issue.
New genres are appearing all the time in the writing world, especially with the quick expanse of the sheer number of books available on Amazon. The YA, (Young Adult) genre has now been joined by the genre ‘New Adult’, in which writers can get away with more graphic violence and sex scenes because their characters are of age.
Perhaps once a writer considers themselves a sufficient ‘Literary Author’, they may embark on writing concept and “marginal art” (Hecq 2009) books, in which they can experiment with operating outside the conventions of writing without the consequences that would be applied to the ordinary writer for failing to adhere to the most basic of writing rules.
Gibbs (1997) describes fictocriticism as a style of “tactical” writing, as though what wants to be expressed by the writer cannot stand on its own and needs to sneak through, past the censors and gatekeepers of writing, to have a chance to be seen.”
*thinks of GamerGirl 😇
Wearing a piece of clothing and having the accompanying physical experiences (e.g., seeing it on one’s body, feeling it on one’s skin, etc.) will make it more likely for the piece of clothing to influence the wearer’s psychological processes (Adam & Galinsky, 2012)
“Once you go through the effort of changing clothes, you can convince your brain that you have committed to getting into bed.” — Kristy Westaway, 2021
Student Loans Restart February 1st
Early on in the pandemic, Congress suspended student loan payments and interest on those loans. That freeze is set to end in February, the Biden administration recently confirmed. That likely won’t sit well with the millions of Americans who collectively owe $1.7 trillion in student loans. Letting student loan repayments begin again in full without some kind of long-term plan for debt relief is political malpractice, Hayes Brown writes.
“Around 41 million Americans have spent the last two years experiencing what life is like without having those monthly payments over their heads — and they liked it,” Brown writes. “They liked it a lot.”
Read Hayes Brown’s full analysis
Mansplaining (Karolina Koc-Michalska et al., 2021)
(assume direct quotes, [unless otherwise noted])
— “Solnit’s (2008) essay “Men Who Explain Things to Me” brought the word mansplaining into the public conversation. Solnit (2012, 2014) defined the term as “the intersection between overconfidence and cluelessness where some portion of (the male) gender gets stuck.”
Mansplaining occurs when a man explains a concept to a woman, often in a patronizing way, while in fact knowing less about the topic he is explaining than the woman to which he is explaining it (Rothman, 2012).
For example, a Twitter user attempted to explain astrophysics to a women astronaut (Perry, 2017). In another example, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez discussed her background with a rightwing commentator, tweeting that he was “mansplaining her own childhood” (Lungariello, 2019).
Further, political ideology matters. It is left-leaning women who experience mansplaining more often and right-leaning men who are accused of it more often.
Women’s relatively stronger aversion to conflict within social interactions has a perceptible effect on the likelihood of their speaking up about political topics (Karolina Koc-Michalska et al., 2021).
Women are expected to act like “mothers” and be “attention-giving in conversation” (Derber, 1979) or be cordial and nonconfrontational (Atkeson & Rapoport, 2003; Babcock et al., 2003).
Women are more likely to use tentative language or “hedge” words (Atkeson & Rapoport, 2003; Leaper & Robnett, 2011) and are overwhelmingly more interrupted than man (Anderson & Leaper, 1998; Bohn & Stutman, 1983; Hancock & Rubin, 2015). In conversation, women generally listen more attentively and ask more questions than men do (Kollock et al., 1985).”
[Jarryd: Women ask more questions & are less willing to comment on topics they’re not confident in, whereas men are willing to discuss a subject even when they have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about (Atkeson & Rapoport, 2003; Mondak & Anderson, 2004; Ondercin & Jones-White, 2011).]
Karolina Koc-Michalska et al. (2021): Twitter & Facebook
— “Men are more likely to guess when they have incomplete knowledge of a topic and they are less likely to select a “don’t know” option when it is offered (Baldiga, 2014; Miller, 2019).
Twitter, which does not require two users to mutually agree to connect in order to communicate, is more conducive to conversation with strangers (weak ties; more favorable to men), whereas communication on Facebook, requiring reciprocal ties, mostly occurs between friends and family (close-ties; more favorable to women) (Oz et al., 2018; Waterloo et al., 2018).
The majority of people’s Facebook friends tend to be people they know personally, whereas Twitter connections are between people who do not know each other personally (Duggan & Smith, 2016).”
— “Women tend to be more interested in political issues focused on more local, community-oriented politics, while men turn toward national and international issues (Coffe, 2013; Sanchez-Vitores, 2018).
Phua, Jin, & Kim (2017): Twitter users report higher levels of intergroup communication predicated on information sharing, while Facebook users tend toward communication intended to strengthen existing relationships and deepen emotional ties.”
Koc-Michalska, K., Schiffrin, A., Lopez, A., Boulianne, S., & Bimber, B. (2021). From online political posting to mansplaining: The gender gap and social media in political discussion. Social Science Computer Review, 39(2), 197–210.
Lesbian Hugs (Michelle Hufkens, 2016)
Affectivity should be higher within lesbian families (Biblarz & Stacey, 2010; Bos et al., 2007; Buist et al., 2004; Fedewa et al., 2014; Golombok & Badger 2010; MacCallum & Golombok, 2004; Manders et al., 2007).
— The biological lesbian mother & her oldest child hug more often together compared with the heterosexual mother oldest child comparison group.
— The rate of hugging in the adoptive lesbian mother & oldest child dyad does not differ significantly from the heterosexual father comparison group.
— Within the father-child dyad less hugging occurs; fathers do not hug more than mothers.
— However, the adoptive lesbian mother hugs less often with all other family members compared with the average father within the heterosexual comparison group.
Biological lesbian mothers were compared with heterosexual mothers because both gave birth.
Adoptive lesbian mothers were compared with heterosexual fathers because neither gave birth.]