INDIANAPOLIS — Is there a need to fear the death of the book in this age of digital readers?
This is the question that will guide the 2014 John D. Barlow Lecture in the Humanities at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis on Oct. 29. The event is free and open to the public.
Kathleen Fitzpatrick, director of scholarly communication of the Modern Language Association and visiting research professor of English at New York University, will present the lecture, “The Future History of the Book: Time, Attention, Convention.”
The lecture will begin at 6 p.m. in the IUPUI Campus Center Theater, 420 University Blvd. A reception precedes the lecture in the Campus Center Theater Atrium at 5 p.m. The theater is located on the building’s lower level.
Anxieties abound regarding the ostensible obsolescence of the book. Exploring whether the book is in fact becoming obsolete, and what it might mean if it were, requires thinking distinctly about the specific material form of the book — the codex, that is, stacks of paper bound on one edge with front and back covers — and about the content it has long carried.
Fitzpatrick asks, if the form were to change — becoming digital, for instance — would our interactions with the content still make the book a viable vector for the cultural interactions the codex has supported? Would it be possible for us to find the powerful identification with the electronic book that we long have had with the codex book? And what might need to happen in order to effect such a transfer of our affections?
“We’re very glad to welcome Dr. Fitzpatrick to Indianapolis to present this year’s Barlow Lecture,” said William Blomquist, dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. “This is a thought-provoking topic, and she is the ideal person to discuss it.”
Fitzpatrick is the author of two books, “Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy” (NYU Press 2011) and “The Anxiety of Obsolescence: The American Novel in the Age of Television” (Vanderbilt University Press 2006). In 2006, she co-founded the digital scholarly network MediaCommons, a community network for scholars, students and practitioners in media studies that promotes the exploration of new publishing forms. Fitzpatrick’s articles have appeared in the Journal of Electronic Publishing, PMLA, Contemporary Literature and Cinema Journal.