Jeffrey Schnapp – The Shifting Contours of the Codex (a secret history of the electric book)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020–6:00 PM
AAR Lecture Room
Via Angelo Masina, 5
Rome, Italy

The lecture will explore the shapes and forms that the codex has assumed from the late nineteenth century to the present, with a focus on the transition from page to screen (and, back again, from screen to page). It tracks the lineage of the electric book from the aspirationally electrified avant-garde experiments of the 1910s and 1920s, through the electric information age paperbacks and Dynabooks of the 1960s and 1970s, and forward into today’s proliferation of reading devices and web-inspired forms and formats, with special attention to the intertwining of pixels and pages. The discussion will raise the question of scholarly communication today with examples from the Harvard metaLABprojects series and include reflections on the shifting role of libraries as a key component of the knowledge economy.

Jeffrey Schnapp is Carl A. Pescosolido Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of Comparative Literature in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University. He is also on the teaching faculty in the Department of Architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and the director and founder of metaLAB and the faculty codirector of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Trained as a medievalist, Schnapp has a PhD in comparative literature from Stanford University and has published widely about twelfth- to fourteenth-century Romance literature, twentieth-century Italian architecture and design, and the future of the book, curatorial practice, knowledge design, and digital humanities. A regular speaker on the organization of knowledge and the future of the humanities in the information age, Schnapp has spoken at TED, the United Nations, World Frontiers Forum, the Royal Academy of Sweden, the Global Leaders Forum, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Volkswagenstiftung, SXSW, Fondazione Corriere della Sera, MEET, and the US National Archives.

The event is organized with the Embassy of the United States to Italy and the Koha Gruppo Italiano.

The lecture will be held in Italian.