Faculty Bookwatch: N. Katherine Hayles, HOW WE THINK

Date: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 5:00pm - 7:00pm
Location: FHI Garage - C105, Bay 4, Smith Warehouse
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page-events-howwethink.pngPlease join us for a panel discussion on N. Katherine Hayles's How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis (University of Chicago Press, 2012). Panelists include Mark Hansen (Literature, Duke), Kate Marshall (English, Notre Dame), Laura Otis (Emory), and Priscilla Wald (Duke). Prof. Hayles will also participate.

Jointly hosted by the Duke University Libraries, Faculty Bookwatch is a series that celebrates notable recent books by Duke faculty in the humanities and interpretive social sciences. For more information about the series and to see a list of previous Bookwatch programs, click here.

N. Katherine Hayles teaches and writes on the relations of literature, science and technology in the 20th and 21st centuries. Her other books include How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics, which won the Rene Wellek Prize for the Best Book in Literary Theory for 1998-99, and Writing Machines, which won the Suzanne Langer Award for Outstanding Scholarship. She is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Program in Literature at Duke University, and Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of California, Los Angeles.

How We Think (print book | digital companion) explores the idea that we think through, with, and alongside media. As the age of print passes and new technologies appear every day, this proposition has become far more complicated, particularly for the traditionally print-based disciplines in the humanities and qualitative social sciences. With a rift growing between digital scholarship and its print-based counterpart, Hayles argues for contemporary technogenesis—the belief that humans and technics are coevolving—and advocates for what she calls comparative media studies, a new approach to locating digital work within print traditions and vice versa.

Hayles examines the evolution of the field from the traditional humanities and how the digital humanities are changing academic scholarship, research, teaching, and publication. She goes on to depict the neurological consequences of working in digital media, where skimming and scanning, or “hyper reading,” and analysis through machine algorithms are forms of reading as valid as close reading once was. Hayles contends that we must recognize all three types of reading and understand the limitations and possibilities of each. In addition to illustrating what a comparative media perspective entails, Hayles explores the technogenesis spiral in its full complexity. She considers the effects of early databases such as telegraph code books and confronts our changing perceptions of time and space in the digital age, illustrating this through three innovative digital productions—Steve Tomasula’s electronic novel, TOC; Steven Hall’s The Raw Shark Texts; and Mark Z. Danielewski’s Only Revolutions.  

Click here to see the digital companion of How We Think (partially supported by the FHI Faculty Book Manuscript Workshops). The website includes additional commentaries, a searchable collection of telegraph code books, and interviews with leading digital humanists.