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The History of Reading


Anthony Grafton, Instructor 

For much of human history, most educated people thought that books contained the keys to the kingdom of knowledge, the secrets of life, the universe, and everything else. The history of reading, of interest to English and global history teachers, helps us understand what it was like to find your facts and ideas, provocations and revelations not on a screen or in a broadcast, but between the covers of books—and how, slowly but surely, that vision of the truth, and the kind of reading it supported, has disappeared. In this seminar, we’ll look at the kinds of evidence that enable us to bring past ways of reading back to life, and discuss the contrasts between those practices and our own.
Anthony Grafton is Henry Putnam University Professor of History and the Humanities at Princeton University. His books include Defenders of the Text, The Footnote: A Curious History, and Worlds Made by Words. He writes for The American Scholar, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, The London Review of Books, The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and The Times Literary Supplement, among other publications.

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  • Audience: Teachers

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