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Speakers announced for AHRC 10th anniversary debate

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Published date 16 November 2015

UAL is delighted to announce the speakers for its debate Books and the Human, which is part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)’s 10th anniversary celebrations series, The Way We Live Now. UAL was selected from over 40 universities to take part in this prestigious series, and the debate will take place at Central Saint Martins on Wednesday 16 December, 6-8.30pm.

The book

The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects,  Marshall McLuhan, Quentin Fiore, 1967

The panel of distinguished speakers, who will be introduced by UAL Vice-Chancellor Nigel Carrington, will approach the topic ‘the book’ through the various lenses of philosophy, history, politics, literature and creative practice (the making of books). Speakers announced today (with more to be confirmed) are:

•  Stuart Kelly (Chair), Writer, critic and Books Editor of Scotland on Sunday
•  Professor Johanna Drucker, Professor of Bibliographical Studies in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA
•  Dr Catherine Eagleton, Head of Asia and Africa Collections, The British Library
•  Tom Uglow, Creative Director, Google Creative Lab

The debate will discuss:

• The book in all its forms and how it connects us to the past, captures the present and looks to the future.
• The intimate relationship between books and knowledge and between books and human beings is fundamental and crosses times and cultures
• In an age when digital technologies and e-books in particular are challenging the traditional forms of the book, how do these changes impact on our relationship with it?
• What does the book as an idea, as a repository of information and as a physical object mean to us any longer?
• What does our changing relationship with the book say about ‘The Way We Live Now’?

Alongside the debate, additional events taking place on 16 and 17 December 2015 will explore how books are conceived, crafted, experienced and shared. These events will include bespoke tours of the British Library Ritblat Treasures collection, object-handling sessions looking at specially selected items from Central Saint Martins’ extensive letterpress archive, bookbinding workshops and a Penguin Books round-table discussion.

The debate, together with these events, will question the intellectual, experiential, practical and public aspects of books and how they shape who we are, offering us an opportunity to reassess what the book means to us, as well as to explore its future as an ongoing part of human culture and life.

Programme Director and Course Leader of MA Communication Design at Central Saint Martins Rebecca Wright, who was part of the team to put forward UAL’s successful application, said of the debate:

“We’re delighted that UAL has been chosen to take part in this debate series to celebrate ten years of AHRC. The Graphic Communication Design programme at Central Saint Martins has a long and rich history of association with typography and book design, dating back to 1896 as the Central School of Arts and Crafts. Hosting this AHRC national debate provides an exciting opportunity to explore the form, function and future of the book from the perspectives of making and thinking, integrating design with the wider humanities. Our interest is in how the book is intimately linked to the way we live now.”

Full programme, booking links and further announcements can be found here.

This debate is a collaboration between UAL and the AHRC.

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