- What is a book?
- Blog/Daily Scribe
- Medieval help desk
- Writing as a technology
- Plato’s Phaedrus
Hello all! Since I have volunteered myself to go first, I’m just going to dive in headfirst and hope for the best. I gotta confess, going first felt like a better idea earlier, as I now find myself anxious about straddling this line between diary/journal entry and actual helpful information to you, my classmates. But I digress and let’s go for it.
First of all, I want to say how terrible it is to have the semester start on your birthday, which today was for me. But I had a pretty decent class line up so it wasn’t the worst thing in the world but still. We started class by going over the syllabus, as usual. Here is where I expected to get let out early but as we all know that is not what happened. But I was weirdly happy to just immediately jump into this class because this class is easily the coolest concept ever. I love the idea of tying together history and literature and the logistical aspects of books and then also a bit of philosophy like we did today. So onward into today’s events.
After some brief syllabus overview. Alex posted the question: what is a book? While I went super abstract, more so focused on the emotional aspects of a book (what it does, is there such thing as a “real” book, etc.), a lot of people went literal (binding, production, etc.). We started in pairs, discussing our writing on the question, and then eventually dovetailed into a group discussion. This led to discussions of not only what makes a book but what does a book do, as well as whether or not e-readers count as books. (Spoiler alert: they do!) This is where I attach a picture of all the notes on our discussion because I’m the best.
From there, we briefly talked through the wiki page and then scribe duties. And here is where I volunteered to go first. Then we took a class vote on whether we wanted to do breaks halfway through class or end early, and more of us voted to end early than to take breaks. I wonder whether the split was grad vs. undergrad, grad students preferring the shorter class to a break. Not that it really matters either way but it’s interesting to think about. I digress. Then we did a little more “syllabus-ing” (direct quote) before discussing the meaning behind the image on the wiki.
Alex then showed us a video of a medieval help desk, spoofing the modern IT desks, which got us into a conversation on how writing serves as a kind of technology, which led into an even deeper conversation on the difference between the reaction to books and the reaction to computer technology. (Spoiler alert: both times people swore society was going to crumble. Both times, of course, society did not.) This is where Plato came in, and we split up into more groups to dissect and discuss his fears and opinions on writing. Of course, like all older generations exposed to new technology, he wasn’t exactly digging it but he allowed that as long as younger generations were still contributing to the ideas people were now writing down, we as humans would probably be okay.
And that was today’s class. See you all next Monday!