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Modernity (1500s - now)

Definition: Modernity is a term used to describe the condition of being "Modern". Since the term "Modern" is used to describe a wide range of periods, modernity must be taken in context.

Modern can mean all of post-medieval European history, in the context of dividing history into three large epochs: Antiquity or Ancient history, the Middle ages, and Modern.

It is also applied specifically to the period beginning somewhere between 1860 and 1910 (after the first wave of the Industrial Revolution), through the present, and even more specifically to the 1910-1960 ('High Modernism', new for new's sake) period.

For the purpose of this site, modernity begins with the invention of movable type (the Gutenberg printing press). In this sense modernity equals print culture. [Apr 2006]

By era: 1500s - 1600s - 1700s - 1800s - 1900s - 2000s

Developments: print culture - Enlightenment - Industrial Revolution - reproduction (mass production) - Romanticism

Compare: modern - modern art - Modernism - High Modernism

Preceded by: Middle Ages

Sometimes said to be followed by: postmodernity

Some defining events in the modern period include:

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modernity

Effects of movable type printing on culture

The discovery and establishment of the printing of books with moveable type marks a paradigm shift in the way information was transferred in Europe. The impact of printing is comparable to the development of language, the invention of the alphabet, and the invention of the computer as far as its effects on the society. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printing_press#Effects_of_printing_on_culture [Jan 2005]

Gutenberg's findings not only allowed a much broader audience to read Martin Luther's German translation of Bible, it also helped spread Luther's other writings, greatly accelerating the pace of Protestant Reformation. They also led to the establishment of a community of scientists (previously scientists were mostly isolated) that could easily communicate their discoveries, bringing on the scientific revolution. Also, although early texts were printed in Latin, books were soon produced in common European vernacular, leading to the decline of the Latin language. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printing_press#Effects_of_printing_on_culture [Jan 2005]

Early modern Europe

The early modern period is a term used by historians to refer to the period in Western Europe and its first colonies, between the Middle Ages and modern society. The latter is assumed to be characterized by the importance of science, technological progress, secular civic politics and capitalist economics, all monitored by the nation state. As such it represents the diminution and/or abolition of Christian theocracy, feudalism and serfdom.

The first documented European voyage to the Americas, by Christopher Columbus in 1492 and Vasco da Gama's voyage to India (1498) were especially significant in this process and set off the Age of Discovery. As were books of political philosophy such as Machiavelli's The Prince (1513) and Thomas More's Utopia (1515). The period saw the rise of all of the key characteristics of capitalist economies, beginning in northern Italian republics such as Genoa. It also saw the rise and dominance of the economic theory of mercantilism.

Therefore the term "early modern" usually applies to the period from the late 15th to the early 18th Century during which these developments were at a formative stage. Common start dates include 1453, the fall of Constantinople, and 1500. The end date is often placed at 1716, the end of the War of the Spanish Succession, 1750, or to 1789 the outbreak of the French Revolution, or even to 1800. There is no agreement and the early modern period can be said to start and stop in different parts of Europe at different times.

The expression "early modern" is often, and incorrectly, used as a substitute for the term Renaissance. Renaissance is properly used in relation to a diverse series of cultural developments; which occurred over several hundred years in many different parts of Europe.

Artistically the early modern is not a common designation as the Renaissance is clearly distinct from what came later. Only in the study of literature is the early modern period a standard period. Music is generally divided between Renaissance, Baroque. Similarly philosophy is divided between Renaissance philosophy and the Enlightenment. In other fields there is far more continuity through the period such as warfare and science.

The term early modern is most often applied to Europe, and its overseas empire. In Japan the Edo period from 1603 to 1867 is sometimes referred to as the early modern period. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Modern [Apr 2005]

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