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Mark Bauerlein to speak at EMU on humanities in the digital age

bauerlein-colorTake a minute and read this book title: The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes our Future (or Don’t Trust Anyone under 30). Chances are those words elicited some kind of emotion.

If you’re under 30, you may have just looked up or away from your digital device and rolled your eyes.

If you’re over 30, your facial expression might be an unbidden, but half-amused grimace accompanied by a bit of nodding.

If you’d like to hear and engage with the author in person, whether to take issue with his stance, and/or to soak up the intellectual discourse of one of the eminent thinkers of the day, you’re in luck.

Author Mark Bauerlein, an English professor at Emory University, will speak at Eastern Mennonite University Thursday, Feb. 5, on “The Humanities in the Digital Age.” Bauerlein’s talk will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Strite Conference Room in the Campus Center, followed by a discussion with the audience, including formal responses by Heidi Winters Vogel, professor of theater, and Eric Codding, director of residence life.

Bauerlein will also speak at Friday’s 10 a.m. chapel in Lehman Auditorium on “From Atheism to Catholocism.” A talk-back with refreshments follows in Common Grounds from 10:30-11:30 a.m.

Bauerlein has taught at Emory University since 1989, with a break in 2003-05 to serve as the Director of the Office of Research and Analysis, at the National Endowment for the Arts. He has published numerous scholarly works, including an acclaimed account of a 1906 race riot in Atlanta, Negrophobia. In addition, his work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Post, Times Literary Supplement, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, where his blog eloquently promotes the humanities.

For a preview of his visit– and to develop a sense of Bauerlein’s wide-ranging and deeply personal conversation with and among great texts as an enlivened source of consolation, wisdom and revelation – read this 2012 essay “My Failed Atheism,” published in the magazine First Things (in one sentence, he quotes Sartre, Faulkner and Nietzche, in that order).

That essay, and Bauerlein’s unique perspective about the relevance of the humanities in the digital age are reasons why Mike Medley, professor of language and literature, is pleased to welcome him to campus. Both Bauerlein’s book and academic studies are closely linked to this year’s campus Common Read selection, Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. www.emu.edu/academics/events/read.

At a time when study of the humanities are under attack, Bauerlein is an ally of the many professors on college campuses who “are eager to give students exposure to great texts, images, sounds and ideas,” says Medley, who notes that it’s not the digital devices themselves that are the problem, but the time-consuming and intense nature of the peer-to-peer relationships they enable. “If we can lure them away from their addicting digital devices, we think we can get them hooked.”

Bauerlein’s lecture is the fourth event in a year-long exploration of the effects of the digital age on education. He joins two other scholars, both from University of Virginia, who have lectured on this theme: Siva Vaidhyanathan, professor of media studies and author of “The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry), and Dan Willingham, professor of psychology and author of “When Can You Trust the Experts? How to Tell Good Science from Bad In Education.”

Article by: Lauren Jefferson