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The Book: Past, Present, and Future

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Many of us love a good cliffhanger, but today we find ourselves in a state of suspense about the book itself. What happens next for the beloved bound volume? Future generations may well live without books, consuming text on various electronic devices networked to infinitely large databases.

Anthony Grafton, professor at Princeton University, is a leading historian of the book. Admired for definitive accounts of the libraries, book trade, and humanistic scholarship of the early modern period, he is best known to a larger public as the author of the bestseller The Footnote: A Curious History and as a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books. In the age of the ebook, Grafton addresses the crux of the book’s future: are the coming days a techno-utopia, the entire library of world culture at our fingertips, or cause for anguish at the loss of the iconic artifact of learning?

This annual lecture recognizes a generous multiyear contribution to the Chicago Humanities Festival by Julie and Roger Baskes.

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