English Department Colloquium Series speaker to explore 'Talking Books' this Friday

UST students, faculty and staff are invited to the first spring semester event of the English Department Colloquium Series.

Katherine Harrison will present “Talking Books,” an exploration of the audiobook. An adjunct member of the English Department and doctoral candidate at Yale, she will defend her dissertation this month.

The colloquium will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, in the O’Shaughnessy Room (Room 108) of the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center. Light refreshments will be served.

In this talk, Harrison will investigate the impact of audiobooks on the field of literary studies. In a preview of her presentation, she writes: “Many of us fondly recall being read to as children; our earliest encounters with literature occurred through the ear. While electronic ‘talking books’ began 70 years ago as aides to the blind and illiterate, they now constitute a vibrant site of literary engagement for those who commute, travel, rest their eyes or multitask while listening to a book on tape, CD or MP3.

“Does this activity ‘count’ as reading? How might audiobooks add or detract from the experience of literature? While critics like Harold Bloom insist that having the text before one’s eye is necessary for close reading, self-professed ‘tapeworms’ extol the narrative pleasures of sound and remind us that Charles Dickens himself traveled the world reading his works to attentive audiences.

“How does the present-day popularity of the audiobook suggest new varieties of literary experience and interpretation? What is at stake in expanding or defending the boundaries of the textual in an age of new media proliferation?”

The next English Department faculty member to present will be Dr. Andy Scheiber, who will speak on “The Blues Aesthetic as Equipment for Living in the 21st Century” in a talk titled “I Don’t Worry About a Thing Because I Know Nothing’s Gonna Be All Right” at the colloquium event on Friday, March 19.

For more information about the colloquium series, call the English Department, (651) 962-5600.