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This book investigates the history of writing as a cultural practice in a variety of contexts and periods. It analyses the rituals and practices determining intimate or ‘ordinary’ writing as well as bureaucratic and religious writing. From the inscribed images of ‘pre-literate’ societies, to the democratization of writing in the modern era, access to writing technology and its public and private uses are examined. In ten studies, presented by leading historians of scribal culture from seven countries, the book investigates the uses of writing in non-alphabetical as well as alphabetical script, in societies ranging from Native America and ancient Korea to modern Europe. The authors emphasise the material characteristics of writing, and in so doing they pose questions about the definition of writing itself. Drawing on expertise in various disciplines, they give an up-to-date account of the current state of knowledge in a field at the forefront of ‘Book History’.