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First-Year Research Seminar: Imagining the Library

Semester and Year SP 2017
Course Number FIRST-UG779
Section 001
Instructor Gregory Erickson
Days TR
Time 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


From the legendary ancient library in Alexandria to the medieval monastic library at Melk to the Library of Congress to the new fully digital library at Florida Polytechnic University, how we imagine, remember, and construct our libraries is indicative of how we narrate our cultural identity. In modern fiction, texts such as Jorge Borges’ “The Library of Babel,” Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, and the Harry Potter books use libraries to speculate about our world using the organization of great fictional libraries from the past and the future as metaphors for human thought. To imagine a library is to ask: What is worth preserving? Who has access to certain information? How do we organize this information? In addition to actual and imaginary libraries, class topics include the history of the book and of reading, the concept of scripture, theories of the archive, and the significance of new media and digital technology. Readings may include works by Plato, Aristotle, Joyce, Bradbury, Orwell, Benjamin, Derrida, Murakami, Anthony Grafton and N. Katherine Hayles. Examples from film and television may include Harry Potter, The Book of Eli, and Doctor Who. Student research projects and papers might explore the history, theory, or architecture of actual libraries new and old; they may look at the role of libraries in education, research, and in speculative fiction about the future of humankind. The course will include guest speakers and site visits.


All Syllabi

Course Type

First-Year Program: Research Seminars (FIRST-UG)