Glasgow School of Art academic, researcher and lecturer Frances Robertson has just published a book with Routledge entitled ‘Print Culture: From Steam Press to Ebook.’ In the book she argues that print culture can only be understood as a constellation of diverse practices, before discussing a range of print cultures from 1800 to the present ‘post-print’ culture. With the advent of new digital communication technologies, the end of print culture once again appears to be as inevitable to some recent commentators as it did to Marshall McLuhan. And just as print culture has so often been linked with the rise of modern industrial society, so the alleged demise of print is often connected to the onslaught of new media.
Frances examines the iconography of materials, marks and processes of print, and in this sense acknowledges McLuhan’s notion of the medium as the bearer of meaning. Even in the digital age, many diverse forms of print continue to circulate and gain meaning from their material expression and their history.
The book is also notable for the large number of images taken from titles in the Library’s Rare Books Collections. Frances was granted special access to these collections to enable her to identify those volumes that best illustrated her hypothesis.