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Colloquium opens spring lecture series

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

FREDERICK, Md.—The role of a new class of book lovers and its influence on book production in late 19th century France will be the topic of a lecture Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Whitaker Campus Center at Hood College. The event opens the college’s annual Center for the Humanities spring colloquium series, which is funded in part by a National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant.

Willa Silverman, Ph.D., professor of French and Jewish studies at The Pennsylvania State University, will discuss the cult-like love of luxury books by a new cadre of upper class collectors in Belle Époque France—a period of profound political, social and technological change—and the role this group played in defining French culture of the era. The activities of these so-called “new bibliophiles” illuminate important questions in book history, French sociocultural history, and fine and decorative arts.

Future colloquium events include a lecture March 1 by Will Noel, curator of manuscripts and rare books at the Walters Art Museum, who will discuss digital recovery of “lost” texts from the ancient and medieval world; a lecture April 3 by April Oettinger of Goucher College and Paul Dowling of Liber Antiquus Rare Books, who will speak about Renaissance “guide books” to ancient Rome; a lecture April 9 by Juniper Ellis, professor of English at Loyola University Maryland, who will speak about the unique history of the modern tattoo; and a lecture April 19 by Rebecca Skloot, award-winning author of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

This year’s colloquium, themed “The Book: From Print to the Digital Age,” explores the past, present and future of the book, along with the numerous cultural changes it has weathered during its 2,000-year history. From the print traditions of medieval Europe to the impact of today’s digital technologies on human communication, the colloquium will examine whether the age of the printed book is coming to an end.

The Hood College Center for the Humanities was founded in 1990 by a group of faculty members from the humanities departments at Hood. During its more than 20-year existence, the Center for the Humanities has presented lectures, symposia, film series, concerts, poetry readings and colloquia. In 1999, Hood was the recipient of a major challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which helps provide for an annual lecture series and an NEH visiting scholar.

For more information, contact Rebecca Prime, Ph.D., Sophia M. Libman NEH Professor of the Humanities, at prime@hood.edu.