Printing Press

Printing, Propaganda, and Progress

Held every other year in Germany and Switzerland, this Communications Department trip explores the impact of technology on Western Europe and Christianity, since the invention of the printing press in 1440.

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This film is from the 2011 Media, Medievals & Modernity trip.

The printing press is arguably the most revolutionary and profound agent of change the world has seen in its political, social, religious, and economic affairs since the phonetic alphabet. How Johannes Gutenberg, the son of a religious economist and himself a goldsmith, combined the technologies of paper, oil-based ink, hot-metal type, and the screw-type wine press to achieve the medium of the book, the world’s first mass-produced commodity, and what its immediate and long-ranging effects were, will be the primary focus of the course.  Along the way we will also learn about the genealogy of the interchangeable part, the invention of the clock, representative money, the rise of capitalism, and other techniques contributing to the modern world as characterized by market economies of mass production.  How these changes in media forms affected the religious practice, and subsequent heritage of Germany, Switzerland, Western Europe, and the globalized world as a whole will be traced through a technology and culture tour that focuses on the rise of the machine and its impact on subsequent world history.

The program consists of  one month of travel (2 weeks in Germany, 2 weeks in Switzerland), with a previous week or more of on-campus instruction.  It was created primarily for Communication/Media Studies majors, but is useful, applicable, and of relevance to History, Business, Economics, Political-Science, Art, Theology, and German language majors as well.  Each year about half of the students are Communications majors, and the other half of students are from other majors who are interested in the subjects being studied on the trip.  Printing Propaganda and Progress will be held every other year. The next trip will be during the summer of 2013.

For the student-created blogs of the last two trips, please visit:

For information on upcoming trips, please contact the Communication Department.

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