Presented with the Stanford Humanities Center
At a time when people express concern about the fate of the book, we join three virtuoso scholars—Seth Lerer, Leah Price, and Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht—who are intimately familiar with the life of the mind nurtured by the bound printed word. How has the book changed history? Are engagements with books different from engagements with other media? How do new technologies transform the way we think and learn? What is happening to life and learning as attention shifts from page to screen? What is gained and what is lost if we neglect interaction through books?
Seth Lerer, the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Stanford, joined the Stanford faculty as Professor of English in 1990, received a joint appointment in Comparative Literature in 1996, and served as Chair of the Department of Comparative Literature from 1997-2000. His research interests include medieval and Renaissance studies, comparative philology, the history of scholarship, and children's literature. He has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies. He is author of many books including Chaucer and His Readers and Error and the Academic Self: The Scholarly Imagination, Medieval to Modern. He recently completed Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language, which will appear this year.
Leah Price is a Professor of English and American Literature at Harvard University, where she teaches on the novel, on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century culture, on narrative theory, on gender, and on the history of books and reading. Educated at Harvard and Yale, she was granted tenure at Harvard in 2002 after serving two years on the Department of English faculty. Her best know book is The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel. She co-directs two seminars at the Harvard Humanities Center, one on Victorian studies and the other on the History of the Book. In 2006 she and Seth Lerer edited a special issue of PMLA on “The History of the Book and the Idea of Literature.”
HANS ULRICH GUMBRECHT (moderator)
The Albert Guérard Professor in Literature at Stanford who is a Professor of French and Italian and Comparative Literature, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, is affiliated with the Department of German Studies, and with the Program in Modern Thought & Literature. He is also Professeur Associé au Département de Littérature comparée at the Université de Montréal, Directeur d'études associé at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris), Professeur attaché au Collège de France, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among his many publications are In 1926: Living at the Edge of Time, Production of Presence: What Meaning Cannot Convey, and, most recently, In Praise of Athletic Beauty.