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The Fate of the Book

The future of the book seems uncertain. In both the academy and the popular press, anxieties abound about the book’s inevitable “death” at the hands of the e-reader, Google, and other digital media. In spite of these shifts and prevailing uncertainties, the physical artifact of the book continues to dominate our thinking about reading and text—the codex intrigues historians, literary critics, general readers, and artists alike. Desperate to keep readers from abandoning the paper book, many publishers in the print trade are turning to eye-catching design strategies, cover art, and innovative packaging, enlivening the book arts and emphasizing physicality just when they seem under threat. Meanwhile, digital projects like Google Books have widened the reach of library collections and historical materials like never before, generating debates about Open Access and elitist economics.

Co-sponsored by the Department of English and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, the Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies (TILTS) symposia in 2012-13 will discuss "The Fate of the Book." Tracking changes in book production, book preservation and reading practices, this series begins with a public lecture by novelist and print historian Nicholson Baker. In panel presentations throughout the academic year, TILTS contributors will analyze and debate the sweeping changes to books, readers, and culture wrought by new digital and web technologies both within and beyond the university. Panelists will include scholars, librarians, collectors, curators, and writers in various fields: literature, economic history and business, university administration, and popular culture.

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Spring events:

All free and open to the public.


28 February 2013

William Chace, Elaine Treharne, & Eric Rasmussen

7:00pm Prothro Theater, Harry Ransom Center


4 April 2013

Michael Suarez

7:00pm Prothro Theater, Harry Ransom Center


30 April 2013

Baba Brinkman

7:00pm Geology Building, JGB 2.324

Past events:


27 September 2012

Nicholson Baker


25 October 2012

Nicolas Barker, Kathleen Rooney, & Michael Witmore


29 November 2012

Bob Stein, Daniel Raff, & Paul La Farge

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