What do Isaac Newton, John Locke, Samuel Pepys, and Roger Williams have in common? The answer is that they were all shorthand adepts. Shorthand, a skill and technology for the clever and “geeky,” developed rapidly in 17th-century England. We look briefly at shorthand as a scribal and linguistic technology, then trace its roots in Puritan piety and its flourishing as a social transformerundefinedespecially in the culture of news and the law.
Michael Mendle is Professor of History at the University of Alabama. He has written on political thought and the world of pamphlets and pamphlet collecting. He was also a co-curator of the exhibition Technologies of Writing in the Age of Print at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
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