World Literature from Mesopotamia to the Moon
Martin Puchner, Byron and Anita Wien Professor of Drama and of English and Comparative Literature, Harvard University
Society for the Promotion of Education and Learning
Synopsis of the lecture:
In this lecture, professor Puchner will present an argument about the interaction between storytelling and writing technologies by drawing on case studies from his recent book, The Written World. The lecture will focus on moments when new technologies, such as paper and print, lower the cost of literature, when they give rise to new formats and format wars, such as the one between the scroll and the book, and when different writing technologies collide violently, as they did when Spanish Conquistadors encountered Maya writing. The speaker will use this history to cast light on the revolution in writing technologies brought about by the Internet, with its explosion of popular storytelling on websites such as wattpad.
Short bio of the lecturer:
Martin Puchner is the Byron and Anita Wien Chair of Drama and of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University. His prize-winning books cover subjects from philosophy to the arts, and his bestselling six-volume Norton Anthology of World Literature and his HarvardX MOOC (massive open online course) have brought four thousand years of literature to students across the globe. His most recent book, The Written World: The Power of Stories of Shape People, History, Civilization (Random House), which tells the story of literature from the invention of writing to the Internet, is being translated into some 20 languages. He is a member of the European Academy and has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Cullman Fellowship, and the Berlin Prize.