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The Gutenberg Parenthesis

Is our emerging digital culture partly a return to practices and ways of thinking that were central to human societies before the advent of the printing press?

This question has been posed with increasing force in recent years by anthropologists, folklorists, historians and literary scholars, among them Thomas Pettitt.

The concept of a "Gutenberg Parenthesis" — formulated by Prof. L. O. Sauerberg of the University of Southern Denmark — offers a means of identifying and understanding the period, varying between societies and subcultures, during which the mediation of texts through time and across space was dominated by powerful permutations of letters, print, pages and books.

MIT professors Peter Donaldson and James Paradis will join Pettitt in a discussion on Thursday, April 1, from 5 to 7 p.m. in 3-270. The event is co-sponsored by the Communications Forum and Writing and Humanistic Studies.

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