Reading is an act of comprehending the meaning of written matter. Despite this simplicity of meaning, it is one of the most diverse words in the English language. Its diversity is the result of two main factors. The first is its culture-specific character, which entails an engagement with different scripts (e.g., pictographs, logographs, alphabets) on different surfaces such as papyrus, paper, and digital screens. The second factor is its etymological evolution: It carries multiple meanings, ranging from scanning and perusing to interpretation. By focusing on different times, countries, and changes in audience outlook and book formats, this entry outlines the history of reading and thus demonstrates how reading has shaped the texture of human civilization from antiquity to contemporary times.

Reading in Antiquity

Since the ancient times, ...

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