Numeracy and popular culture: Cocker’s Arithmetick and the market for cheap arithmetical books, 1678–1787

James Fox*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Cocker’s Arithmetick was the most popular English-language arithmetic textbook from the late seventeenth to the mid-eighteenth century. Though well known to historians of popular mathematics, the reasons for its remarkable success remain largely unexplored. To explain why Cocker became a bestseller, this article identifies the economic, sociocultural, and intellectual conditions which spurred demand for arithmetical books, before considering the book’s textual and material qualities, and finally its situation within the mass market for cheap print. The success of Cocker’s Arithmetick, it is argued, demonstrates the means by which arithmetic became so embedded in early modern Anglophone popular culture.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalCultural and Social History
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date18 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Numeracy
  • Arithmetic
  • Chapbooks
  • Popular culture
  • Booktrade

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