This article explores the political and social implications of the expansion of print culture in nineteenth-century Chile. It posits that Church and State responded in mardkedly different ways to the impact of literacy and the practice of reading books and newspapers. The article argues that liberal intellectuals and politicians were quicker to understand the potential of the written word for advancing cultural and political aims. The Church, for its part, was slower and even antagonistic to the employment of this medium. However, by the end of the century, both Church and State achieved a substantial understanding, and skill, in the use of print for the massive diffusion of information. This, in turn, meant the expansion of the political arena, and new terms as well as standards of political debate.
Instituto de Historia, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile