The World in Time

Mark Kurlansky

Friday, October 13, 2017

The history of paper is a story of technology following a need, argues Mark Kurlansky. The Chinese invented paper to keep records cheaply and easily in a bureaucratic society. It wasn’t until centuries later that the Arabs—adept at mathematics, astronomy, and accounting—had reason to adopt paper. Europeans, plagued by illiteracy, long knew of paper (Arab merchants regularly offered it for sale), but it wasn’t until a thousand years after its invention that Europeans, having adopted Arab innovations in math and science, imported paper to replace cumbersome and expensive parchment made of animal hides.

 

Lewis H. Lapham talks with Mark Kurlansky, author of Paper: Paging Through History.

 

Thanks to our generous donors. Lead support for this podcast has been provided by Lisette Prince through the EJMP Fund for Philanthropy. Additional support was provided by James J. “Jimmy” Coleman Jr.

Discussed in this episode

Paper: Paging Through History by Mark Kurlansky.

More Podcasts

June 23, 2017

The World in Time:

Kory Stamper

Lewis Lapham talks with Kory Stamper, lexicographer at Merriam-Webster and the author of Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries.     More

June 01, 2011

The World in Time:

What a Prince

Lewis Lapham talks with historian Miles Unger about the Florentine father of modern political science. More

October 12, 2018

The World in Time:

Jill Lepore

Lewis H. Lapham talks with Jill Lepore, author of These Truths: A History of the United States. More

August 19, 2011

The World in Time:

Country Roads

Lewis Lapham talks with author Earl Swift about the roads that connect America.  More

"Underground" routes to Canada.

January 05, 2018

The World in Time:

Eric Foner

Lewis H. Lapham talks with Eric Foner, author of Battles for Freedom: The Use and Abuse of American History. More

June 15, 2011

The World in Time:

To End All Wars

Lewis Lapham talks with author Adam Hochschild about the struggles of the antiwar movement in World War I–era Britain. More