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The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Registration is NOT required
Members Free and Non-members Free with admission ($10)

The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization

Martin Puchner 

In The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Martin Puchner tells the story of literature and its power to shape people, civilizations, and world history by exploring sixteen selected key stories from over 4,000 years of world literature.  Beginning with the Iliad's influence on Alexander the Great to J. K. Rowling today, Martin Puncher takes us on a remarkable journey through history, as he tells stories of people whose lives and beliefs led them to create groundbreaking texts that affected the world they were born into, and the world in which we live today.

Along the way, we learn fascinating facts and insights about people—how Gutenberg paved the way for Luther, Benjamin Franklin’s pioneering work as a media entrepreneur, Goethe’s invention of world literature in Sicily, and Akhmatova’s and Solzhenitsyn’s secret writings in the Soviet Union. Throughout The Written World, Martin Puchner captures the inventions—writing technologies, the printing press, the book—that have shaped religion, politics, and commerce.

Martin Puchner is the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University. He is the general editor of the Norton Anthology of World Literature and the Norton Anthology of Western Literature. His HarvardX course has brought four thousand years of literature to students across the globe. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Check out the bookplate collection of bibliophile Sidney Lawton Smith in the Boston Athenæum’s digital collection, which contains over 300 designs created and engraved by one of the premier American bookplate artists of the early twentieth century.


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Most programs held in the Bayard Henry Long Room on the Athenaeum's first floor are amplified and assistive listening devices are available for patron use.

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