World Literature from Mesopotamia to the Moon

Mandag 29. april 2019
Kl. 15:15 - 17:00
Arrangør: Institut for Kommunikation og Kultur
Bygning 1584, lokale 212
Langelandsgade 145
8000 Aarhus C

Foto: Anette Hornischer

Martin Puchner is the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University, where he also serves as the founding director of the Mellon School of Theater and Performance Research. A recent fellow of both the Guggenheim Foundation and Cullman Center, he has published over a dozen books and anthologies, including Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos, and the Avant-Gardes (Princeton, 2006), which won the MLA’s James Russell Lowell Award; The Drama of Ideas: Platonic Provocations in Theater and Philosophy (Oxford, 2010), awarded the Joe A. Callaway Prize and the Walter Channing Cabot Prize; and The Written World: How Literature Shaped Civilization (Random House, 2017). Puchner is the co-editor of Against Theatre: Creative Destructions on the Modernist Stage (Palgrave, 2006) and The Norton Anthology of Drama (2009), and the general editor of the Norton Anthology of World Literature.

In this lecture, I will present an argument about the interaction between storytelling and writing technologies by drawing on case studies from my recent book, The Written World. I 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. I 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.

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.