Aarhus University Seal


Public lecture with Professor Martin Puchner, Harvard University

"World Literature from Mesopotamia to the Moon"

Info about event


Monday 29 April 2019,  at 15:15 - 17:00
[Translate to English:] Foto: Annette Hornischer

Martin Puchner is the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University, where he also serves as the founding director of the Mellon School of Theater and Performance Research. A recent fellow of both the Guggenheim Foundation and Cullman Center, he has published over a dozen books and anthologies, including Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos, and the Avant-Gardes (Princeton, 2006), which won the MLA’s James Russell Lowell Award; The Drama of Ideas: Platonic Provocations in Theater and Philosophy (Oxford, 2010), awarded the Joe A. Callaway Prize and the Walter Channing Cabot Prize; and The Written World: How Literature Shaped Civilization (Random House, 2017). Puchner is the co-editor of Against Theatre: Creative Destructions on the Modernist Stage (Palgrave, 2006) and The Norton Anthology of Drama (2009), and the general editor of the Norton Anthology of World Literature.

In this lecture, I will present an argument about the interaction between storytelling and writing technologies by drawing on case studies from my recent book, The Written World. I will focus on moments when new technologies, such as paper and print, lower the cost of literature, when they give rise to new formats and format wars, such as the one between the scroll and the book, and when different writing technologies collide violently, as they did when Spanish Conquistadors encountered Maya writing. I will use this history to cast light on the revolution in writing technologies brought about by the Internet, with its explosion of popular storytelling on websites such as wattpad.