Adrian Johns at Wilson Library: The Invention of Scientific Reading

The Rare Book Collection partnered with our friends in the Department of English and Comparative Literature to bring Prof. Adrian Johns to speak on Tuesday April 10. Johns, one of the most provocative thinkers and writers on the history of the book, delivered a lecture in the English Department’s Critical Speaker Series, “The Invention of Scientific Reading.”

It was a fascinating and nuanced presentation that looked at three scientific revolutions and specific moments in which an act of reading “made” a critical piece of knowledge or unmade forms of knowledge. Johns discussed Galileo and the Copernican revolution; Isaac Newton and rational mechanics; James Clerk Maxwell and modern field theory; and concluded with remarks on contemporary efforts to automate reading, “an altogether terrifying prospect.” But don’t let us muddle all the details, access the podcast. Well worth the listening!