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Dr. Eisenstein was interviewed by Laureano Ralon on October 12th, 2010 as part of the Figure/Ground Communication scholarly interview series: http://www.figureground.ca/interviews/ Elizabeth Eisenstein is an American historian of the French Revolution and early 19th century France. She is well-known for her work on the history of...
Elizabeth Eisenstein is an American historian of the French Revolution and early 19th century France. She is well-known for her work on the history of early printing, writing on the transition in media between the era of manuscript culture and that of print culture, as well as the role of the printing press in effecting broad cultural change in Western civilization. Eisenstein was educated at Vassar College where she received her B.A., then went on to Radcliffe College for her M.A. and Ph.D, where she studied under Crane Brinton. She taught at American University from 1959 to 1974, then the University of Michigan, where she was the Alice Freeman Palmer Professor of History. In 1979 she was resident consultant for the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. She has held positions as a fellow at the Humanities Research Center of the Australian National University and at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Palo Alto). Eisenstein was also a visiting professor at Wolfson College, Oxford, and published her lectures from that period as Grub Street Abroad: the Lyell Lectures sponsored by the Bodleian Library and published by Oxford. Her masterpiece is The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, a two-volume, 750-page exploration of the effects of movable type printing on the literate elite of post-Gutenberg Western Europe. In this work she focuses on the printing press’s functions of dissemination, standardization, and preservation and the way these functions aided the progress of the Protestant Reformation, the Renaissance, and the Scientific Revolution.