The Book: Material Histories & Digital Futures

Main Library
tags: Art Exhibits

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The Book: Material Histories & Digital Futures
Thu, Jul 12, 6:30–8:30pm

The Book: Material Histories & Digital Futures explores the history of the book from material and embodied perspectives, considering how new and old forms of book technology and circulation impact the creation and reception of knowledge. In addition to looking at the history of the book, the exhibit will also consider the present moment of the book’s evolution as a prologue to humanist innovation, as developing technologies, digital and multimodal, offer a host of new forms and distribution channels. The exhibit addresses how transformations in the book can change interactions between bodies of knowledge and individual human bodies.

As Nicole Howard, in The Book: The Life Story of a Technology, writes, “No other technology in human history has had the impact of [the book].” Meditations on the future of the book are commonplace, offering opportunities to examine the impact of technology on access to historical and contemporary texts. Often, however, these meditations look solely to the past, offering elegies for things lost rather than investigating opportunities for transformation and new access.

From the traditional codex to digital iterations, the life history of the book as a technology helps us understand how its evolution over time has impacted culture and knowledge-making. Over time, we can see the book’s flux and fixity through the human networks that produce, distribute, and consume texts. Too, the book, in any form, invites interaction and engages the body in certain and specific ways, through visual, aural, olfactory and tactile experiences of reading.

The works in the exhibit will be created over a four-week period, as part of an NEH Summer Institute hosted by Salt Lake Community College. Participants in the institute are teachers and scholars from higher education institutions across the country.

The Book: Material Histories & Digital Futures has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Location: Main Library, Special Collections

Contact Information: 801-524-8200