March 1 Bucket Course“The History and Future of the Book”

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Erik Simpson Professor of English; Samuel R. & Marie-Louise Rosenthal Professor of Humanities, Aug. 7, 2019. (Photo by Justin Hayworth/Grinnell College)

Books are familiar to all of us, but Professor Erik Simpson hopes to share “the excitement of seeing these deeply familiar objects in new ways.”

Simpson will discuss “The History and Future of the Book”
at the next Bucket Course sponsored by Grinnell’s Community Education Cooperative.

The course will be held on Wednesday March 1, 2023 at the Caulkins Community Room of the Drake Community Library. Classes will run from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Bucket Courses are open to everyone in the community; no preregistration or fee required. Donations toward refreshments are welcome.

Simpson plans to have attendees “looking at books literally and metaphorically— literally, by seeing any given book and understanding its place in the history of book construction, and metaphorically, by thinking about what a book is and how it works.”

Simpson describes the goals of the course: “We will first think together about an obvious question, though not a simple one: what is a book? Then we will examine a number of key developments in the history of the book, such as the spread of movable type, the industrialization of printing in the nineteenth century, and the digitization of book production and distribution in recent decades. We will close by attempting together to imagine the future of the book. Given the relatively recent emergence of audiobooks, electronic books, and computer-generated writing, where do we imagine the book isheaded in the coming decades?”

Erik Simpson is a Professor of English at Grinnell College, where he arrived in 2001 after earning his B.A. from the University of Virginia and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. His literature courses focus on British and Irish writing from Shakespeare to the present, especially the literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He has written two books—one about minstrelsy and improvisation, one about representations of mercenaries—in his primary research field, the British and transatlantic literature of the Romantic period. In recent years, Simpson’s work at Grinnell College has ranged widely: he has begun teaching courses in digital methods for studying literature, has served as a co-chair of the planning committee for the new Humanities and Social Studies Center, and is developing new courses on book arts and the history and future of the book. His current research, in collaboration with Carolyn Jacobson, focuses on the intersection of technology and the representation of dialect speech in Victorian fiction.

Members of the sponsoring Community Education Cooperative include Grinnell Regional Medical Center, Grinnell College, Drake Community Library, Grinnell- Newburg School District, Grinnell Area Arts Council, Mayflower Community, Grinnell Education Partnership, Read to Lead, and Iowa Valley Community College. Videos of previous Bucket Courses are available on the YouTube channel Grinnell Community Education Cooperative.

For more information, contact Judy Hunter judy586@gmail.com.