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In this exploration of the social context of reading and writing in pre-industrial England, David Cressy tackles important questions about the limits of participation in the mainstream of early modern society. To what extent could people at different social levels share in political, religious, literary and cultural life; how vital was the ability to read and write; and how widely distributed were these skills? Using a combination of humanist and social-scientific methods, Dr Cressy provides a detailed reconstruction of the profile of literacy in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, looking forward to the eighteenth century and also making comparisons with other European societies.
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