LIVE from NYPL: Emma Smith: Why Do We Still Burn Books?
The Professor of Shakespeare Studies at University of Oxford lectures on the history of book-burning from the ancient Mediterranean to Margaret Atwood.
“Book burning for ideological reasons is almost as old as the book form itself,” writes Emma Smith in her new book, Portable Magic: A History of Books and Their Readers. It “is a highly emotive trope and is…compelling for those who burn and those who deplore it. But, in itself, burning a book is irrelevant.” Debating the practical implications of burning books against their symbolic power, Smith lectures on items, including some in the Library’s Treasures exhibition, to examine this peculiar corner in the history of censorship and the talismanic power of books.
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Be sure to visit Treasures, The New York Public Library’s first-ever permanent exhibition highlighting our world-renowned research collections. To register and learn more about the exhibition, which features rare and beautiful astronomical books, charts, and artwork, click here.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Emma Smith teaches Shakespeare at the University of Oxford, England. She is the author of This Is Shakespeare (2019), a Times Book of the Year. She works with theatre companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company and is the Sam Wanamaker Fellow at Shakespeare’s Globe, London, for 2023. Her interests–as well as books, of course–are silent films, birdwatching, and fast cars.
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Treasures programming is made possible by the Estate of Helen Sisserson.