Introductory Perspectives by Marcel Danesi

One of the well-known and thoroughly researched books

One of the well-known and thoroughly researched books that extensively examines the development and present pop culture that we are living in today is Popular Culture: Introductory Perspectives by Marcel Danesi. In this book, Danesi conducts extensive research into the social mechanisms that have contributed to the emergence and spread of popular culture, demonstrating how it validates our shared experiences and offering a variety of perspectives on its various ways of entry into daily life. The author examines our aspirations and the need to express it through language, music, and other artistic and creative endeavors. The perspectives that he offers assist us in comprehending the pop culture products from websites to celebrities, and more as he portrays the fun side of pop culture without in any way making us feel guilty about enjoying our way of life. Popular culture is everywhere; humans depend on it in all that they do; hence, could not survive without its existence. Its products are the music that we listen to, newspapers that we read, movies we watch; they are on our phones, computers, and televisions. People do treat as their best friend; they love to hate it and hate to love it. It is our way of life.

Print materials and popular culture are linked

Print materials and popular culture are linked. Recreational materials comprise of newspapers, books, magazines, and comics were the ones to be discovered, which led to the new culture and even with the presence of internet activities; they continue to be commonly used among people. Printing press first brought its existence during the sixteenth century in Gutenberg Galaxy as referred to by McClellan. Cheap mass books were used in storing and transferring of knowledge and ideas to people. They were also used for pleasure reading. The objective of this paper is to review the theme of print by discussing its components such as the newspapers, books, magazines, and comics. It also provides arguments and personal opinions that support and disagree with the author’s work. The paper also offers a case study regarding the print culture with a clear conclusion.

The Print Culture Review


The invention of books first started with the Egyptians. By 2700 BC, they utilized the materials made from the papyrus plants stems, which grow along the Nile River to make pages connected. They were referred to as nascent books and were the ones that brought social change in the Gutenberg galaxy. After the papyrus made books were invented, many libraries were built all over the Middle East. During the third century, the largest one was built by the Greeks in Alexandria. Other parts of the world also commenced building their libraries leading to increasing of literacy levels among the people. Thus, in the eleventh centuries, the development of universities started. The rise of literacy led to the invention of the encyclopedia (23-79 CE), which means general knowledge in Greek. It was written by Pliny the Elder who was a popular Roman writer. The development of the encyclopedia became the foundation of the enlightenment movement, which learned that knowledge could be arranged logically from keywords to topics, and names. In 700 CE, the Arab traders introduced papers to the West; hence, spreading literacy to the regions as people used them in teaching their children in how to read and write. As the enlightenment period spread, several inventions were also made to enhance mass production of books such as the invention of movable clay typesetting in China and metal typesetting in Korea during the 1st century. Johannes Gutenberg also made history by turning wine press into a printing machine used in mass production of papers. Laws that protect book authors and publishing houses were also established. The United States was the first country to pass the copyright law. As the technology started advancing, the quality of the books also improved. In the 1960s, the introduction of the computers made work easier for authors in writing their work. In 1995, Amazon was established; however, it started receiving its profits in 2002. In 1998, the Digital Millennium Copyright Extension Act was enacted. In the 2000s, Adobe and Microsoft commenced making its first online books. Novels were also written by authors in storytelling thus developing into a mass culture phenomenon. They are the evidence that indeed narratives are the universal expressive forms that people respond to impulsively as pleasurable and measurable. As time went by, its genres also expanded with gothic ones being written. The most famous one is the Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft in 1818. Other genres include comedies. Nowadays, novelists become the celebrities themselves even without their work being transformed into movies. Fiction also became popular with prose romance and long verse tale.


Handwritten news sheets that were published during the ancient period were the forerunners of the current newspapers. The first Roman news sheet, Acta Diurna (Daily Events), was the first ones to be published in the 59 BC. However, the first newspaper to be published was the Chinese circular referred to as Dibao in 700CE was produced using the carved wooden blocks. The newspaper then expanded widely in Europe during the 17th and 18th century. In the late 1800s, it became a popular reading material in Asia and Europe thus the business booming. Northern Europe also used news sheets known as Corantos in 1620. Nonetheless, despite the newspapers being popular in other parts of the world, the newspapers had not reached America until in 1690. Both foreign, Domestik, and Public occurrences were published during that year. In 1980, Ohio’s Columbus Dispatch became the first newspaper to go online. By 2003, most newspapers developed the online approach to attract more clients and expand their businesses. They also had to venture in the online marketing due to the intense competition that they received from other firms, which had discovered the consumers increasing taste on the internet.


Johann Rist who was a German poet and theologian developed a periodical known as the Erbauliche Monaths-Unterredungen in 1663. It was considered to be the first example of a modern magazine. The periodical lasted for around five years and led to the developments of other parallel journals in Italy, France, and Germany. In 1672, French writer Jean Donneau de Vizé created Le Mercure Galant. It contained songs, short verses, news, and gossip. The periodical became popular in France despite being ridiculed by intellectuals as knowledge lacking. However, during the 1700s, increased literacy among women led to the demand for magazines thus making them a favorite cultural staple. English printers managed to print three essay periodicals, which became the forerunners of the modern magazines: the Tatler by Sir Richard Steele in 1709-1711, The Review by Daniel Defoe in 1704-1713, The Spectator by Addison and Steele in 1711-1712. In 1842, an English news anchor Herbert Ingram created the first illustrated magazine known as the Illustrated London News. William Wallace founded a magazine known as the Readers Digest in 1922. It contained articles regarding cartoons, American Culture, and humor inside. In 1964, Sports Illustrated magazine was also established. Nearly 600 years after the printing press was invented, thousands of magazines continue to educate, inspire, and entertain readers.


Comics were first developed with the translation of Rodolphe Töpffer’s: Obadiah Oldbucks Adventures work in 1842. Later on, local American artists took over the new approach and developed several comics. However, the development of daily newspaper became a vital step in making comic strips reach a larger audience. During the first years, canonical codes such as speech balloons and recurring characters. The characters became famous since they were subject to cross-media examination. In 1934, a crucial second evolution in the comic books occurred whereby dissemination of comics was dedicated to the media. Nonetheless, in 1938, a superhero known as the Superman was starred in one comic book thus starting what is known as the Comic Books Golden Age. During the WWII, funny animals and superheroes became the most well recognized genres. In the 1950s, after television was invented, comic books began to decline. From the early 1970s to the mid-1980s, very popular superheroes developed by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee became leading in publishers thus referred to as Bronze Age of Comic Books. Comics still suffered a crisis even in the 2000s (Modern Age of Comics) with the new product known as webcomic offering a rough solution. Comic books are still popular up to date but not as much as they used to during their onset.

Individual Views and Main Argument of the Print Culture Selected with a Case Study


Marcel Danesi’s book “Popular Culture: Introductory Perspectives” shed light on how humans came to live in the current modern pop culture. Many people do not comprehend where most of the products they use like television, online books, and magazines came to be in our society. Thus, this paper reviews the theme of print culture that comprises of newspapers, magazines, books, and comics.


The purpose of the print culture illustrated by Danesi in my own opinion is to inform its audience or readers about the role played by the print media in the development and evolution of pop culture. Fictional stories, which was developed in the books assisted greatly in the creation of amusement in popular culture and is even, used them as the primary source of people’s entertainment. Fiction genres became the current genres that we love in the media (televisions and radios), crime stories, and other forms of leisure.

The author claims that the print culture led to the birth of our modern popular culture. Newspapers, magazines, comics, and book all started with a simple method that ended up influencing our current pop culture. For instance, the newspaper started from a news sheet then to Dibao, a carved wooden block, a Chinese newspaper in the 700 CE to the current newspapers that we read in our daily lives. The only thing that remains the same is that they all offered knowledge and entertained their audiences. The modern newspapers can also be found online due to the widespread culture, unlike the news sheet. However, in spite of their similarities and differences, it can never be argued that the early new sheets are the ones that preceded our pop culture. Print culture materials were used in making the society literate. It was first widely used in Europe followed by other parts of the world. After the discovery of the books, many libraries were made, whereby people could gather knowledge from the books (“Pop Culture: An Overview | Philosophy Now”, 2017). Learners were taught how to read and write thus gaining immense knowledge that would lead to inventions of different kind of types of equipment such as the printing press and technology. Print culture brought the enlightenment period, which became the main tools in the path of pop culture evolution (“Seventeenth-Century Print Culture, In Our Time – BBC Radio 4”, 2017). After they discovered the benefits that the print could bring such as the arranging of letters in the encyclopedia, they ensured that there was mass production of the newspapers, books, magazines, and comic to reach many people.

The author has managed to write an exciting and in-depth book; however, in Chapter four whereby the central theme discussed in this paper is found, he fails to reference most parts of the paper by relying mostly on his information. It is not that his work is plagiarized, but it makes a reader question the credibility of the dates that he provides regarding the historical events. Some of them are cited while the majority of them are not on the pages. Citation assists in giving credit to the source where the information is coming from strengthens the author’s position and shows due diligence (Bailey, 2017).

The author points out that technology was another dominant driving force behind the print in the contribution to our pop culture. In 1440, Joannes Gutenberg invented the printing press and was transported to England by William Caxton. Gutenberg was the father of technology in the print culture since, after his invention; the basic printing technology remained mostly the same during the 1800s even though it was operated by two men and produced around two hundred impressions per hour. However, during the 19th century, the process was automated, mechanized, and its speed increased from slower to faster. Later enhancements, led to the development of the Applegath cylinder machine that runs 5,000 impressions per every hour as the Hoe Press performing much better by undergoing 20,000 impressions in each hour (Taunton, 2014). Throughout the authors work, it is clear to see that pop culture is wholly linked to technology.

The author manages to provide the timelines of every event. By doing so, readers can differentiate timings of the major events through the pages of the book. The culture of print, for example, is dated back to the 2700 BC whereby the first book was made up of papyrus stem grown along the Nile River. Johannes Gutenberg also in 1453 managed to take a wine press and converted it into a book printing machine that led to the mass production of reading materials. More to any person purpose, a critical upcoming events purpose would be the introduction of the Gothic and horror Novel with Marry Wollstonecraft’s “Frankenstein” during 1818. Through, the accurate use of dates in the significant event, it is easier to arrange the events in a sequential format. The information is also easy to understand and mostly assist students particularly the English Language Learner (ELLs). Since numerical markers, for instance, days, hours, and years are placed apart from one another, timeliness can seem to be less complex than pure text; hence, assisting the learners in relating events to their parallel times. Timelines do help the students in comprehending change, growth, current events, cause and effect, and major events of economic, social, and historical significance (Hines, 2006).


Personally, I would recommend this book to any student or a scholar who is interested in understanding the history of popular culture since it provides in-depth details regarding the several themes. It can be used for academic purposes and pleasure reading. A critical examination, dispassionate, and evaluation of the plunge of this book vis-à-vis the original rationale of the author shows that Danesi was well aware of the details of the culture and demonstrated enough competence especially in the analysis and translation of the copious pop-culture historical facts at his disposal. Written in clear and concise scholarly language, this articulate and original work is crucial in understanding our background in pop culture.

Overall, the book is short regarding the volume but well explained with 342 pages and the central theme in Chapter 4, the print culture, running from page 67 to 90. The author should have expanded the details of the book by explaining the events much deeper. He points out the events and the details but fails to explain the details much more. Nevertheless, the information he provides is still understandable and precise.


In Popular Culture: Introductory Perspectives, Marcel Danesi digs deep into the pop culture and the theme of print through its historical stages in his gripping and characteristic style, which connects with the audience of all backgrounds. In this paper, all the four components of the print are well reviewed. The historical background of each factor is highlighted including important dates and events that occurred and how they evolved chronologically from the start to the modern period. Several arguments have been made in the study keenly, analyzed, and then supported by evidence. For instance, the author pointed out that print precedes the pop culture, which is true since, without the print press, most of us would still be illiterate. The author also fails to use references in Chapter four in referencing many critical events thus making the readers question the book’s credibility. Danesi introduces critical theoretical concepts with appealing descriptions of specific events in pop culture history without unnecessary ideological bias or jargon and also explores vital ideas with excellent examples. As readers will go through the theme of print, they will be able to understand the influence of the theme from the newspaper, magazines, comic, and books perspectives. Without the print culture, we would be still stuck in the ancient way of life. They will also get an expert initiation into critical thinking and semiotic regarding the culture that they live in the modern world. Finally, this is the best book that I have ever come across, which discusses the pop culture. Indeed, it is a work of a genius.


Hines, A. (2006). Using Timelines to Enhance Comprehension | Colorín Colorado. Retrieved 28 October 2017, from

Taunton, M. (2014). Print culture. The British Library. Retrieved 28 October 2017, from

Bailey, J. (2017). Why Cite? Three Reasons to Cite Your Sources – Plagiarism Today. Plagiarism Today. Retrieved 28 October 2017, from

Pop Culture: An Overview | Issue 64 | Philosophy Now. (2017). Retrieved 28 October 2017, from

Seventeenth Century Print Culture, In Our Time – BBC Radio 4. (2017). BBC. Retrieved 28 October 2017, from

Danesi, M. (2015) Popular Culture: Introductory Perspectives (3rd Edition). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. [342 pages]

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