A Conference about The Future of the Original Reading Device

"Why Books?" at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University
October 29, 2010

Pat Harrison

Cambridge, MA--With the emergence of the Kindle, the Nook and the iPad, the time is right to ask "Why Books?" The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University is convening scholars from a variety of fields for a one-day conference--"Why Books?"--with a focus on the future format of books, as well as their storage, circulation, transmission and use.

"Leading thinkers in literature, computer science, history and sociology are coming to the Institute to explore this important, timely subject," said Radcliffe Institute Dean Barbara J. Grosz, who is also the Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. As a computer scientist who has modeled communication in writing and speech, Dean Grosz appreciates "the rapid changes taking place in the production and consumption of books and the way these changes affect individuals and institutions."

The schedule of speakers and subjects--including Paul Duguid of the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley, Isabel Hofmeyr of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa and Adrian Johns, history professor at University of Chicago and author of Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates (University of Chicago Press, 2010)--is available on our Web site.

A series of related site visits have been arranged for October 28, with destinations including a printing press, a conservation lab, a digital humanities center and the Radcliffe Institute's Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America. All site visits are now at capacity; however, media can be granted special access by contacting Pat Harrison in advance. The site visits are listed on-line.

Leah Price, senior advisor to the humanities program at the Radcliffe Institute, a professor of English at Harvard, and Ann Blair, a professor of history at Harvard, guided the scope and substance of the Radcliffe Institute conference.

"We will look back at the long history of the book as well as envision its future," said Price. "We want to better understand the printed 'before' that provides a baseline for the digital 'after.' We've striven for a hands-on format--combining formal lectures with field trips and scholarly debate with the expertise of librarians, curators, and others who work on material culture--in order to understand the range of options, past and present, for producing, transmitting and using texts."

Media is invited to attend the conference on October 29, as well as site visits on October 28. For inquiries and to confirm participation or secure interviews, contact Pat Harrison at 617-495-8116 or harrison@radcliffe.edu.


About the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University is a scholarly community where individuals pursue advanced work across a wide range of academic disciplines, professions and creative arts. Within this broad purpose, the Institute sustains a continuing commitment to the study of women, gender and society. For more information, please visit www.radcliffe.edu.

Search Year: