Hashtag Lit

Leah Price on how books were social media all along

<em>Verbotene Literatur</em> (1886) by Félix-Henri Giacomotti

When we look back to what we imagine to have been the golden age of reading—say, before the invention of the smart phone—could it be that we’re really misreading book history? That’s what literary critic and Rutgers professor Leah Price argues in What We Talk About When We Talk About Books, using material history and social history to explore both how people read in the past and how most of us read today. Gutenberg printed more papal indulgences than Bibles, and until the past century or so, most reading was done aloud—in fact, too much reading was discouraged because of the deleterious effect it supposedly had on one’s character! Price joins us this week to discuss how, just maybe, social media and books aren’t enemies after all, but merely different forms of the same literary tradition. This episode originally aired in 2020.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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