French historian of written culture Roger Chartier will be inaugurating the new season of the Stanford Presidential Lectures, now under the aegis of the Stanford Humanities Center. Chartier, Marta Sutton Weeks Distinguished Visitor at the Humanities Center, is currently Directeur d'Études at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris) as well as Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University. Since 1969, he has been lecturing and publishing on the relationship between the material history of institutions and the embodied practices which both animate and survive these institutions: in particular, early modern techniques of reading, disseminating and collecting printed information.
The course of Roger Chartier's work indicates the multiple avenues of critical inquiry available to cultural historians; and it is no secret that Chartier has been in large part responsible for defining what this elusive discipline — "cultural history" — might be. His On the Edge of the Cliff (1997), for example, stages encounters with thinkers as diverse as Michel de Certeau, Hayden White, Louis Marin, and Norbert Elias. In the wake of this volume, and of particular value for readers wanting to acquaint themselves with Chartier's work, French Historical Studies published a forum entitled "Critical pragmatism, language, and cultural history" (1998).
Recognized internationally for his distinguished work on the history of books, printing, and reading, Roger Chartier is frequently asked to lecture or to participate in extended teaching programs in related disciplines, a public role that is described informally in a recent interview. He serves as well on the advisory boards of research institutes focused on publishing history, such as the IMEC (Institut Mémoire de l'Édition Contemporaine). Chartier's hundreds of articles and books have appeared in at least ten different languages: the most recent of these to appear in English are Publishing Drama in Early Modern Europe (London: The British Library, 1999) and A History of Reading in the West (edited with Guglielmo Cavallo; Oxford: Polity, 1999).
In the tradition of previous lecturers' reflections on the current shape and future of the humanities, Chartier will give a talk on Monday, October 16 at 7pm entitled "At the Crossroads between Textual Criticism and Cultural History: The Return to Literature." The following afternoon, at 4 pm, he will field questions from a panel of Stanford professors and respond to audience concerns and interests. The October 17 panel discussion will double as an opening event for Green Library's Humanities and Area Studies Resource Center (HASRC), which will sponsor similar discussions or talks in following months. The Chartier panel discussion will be followed by a reception in the Bender Room and an invitation to visit the Lane Room, the main site of the HASRC, afterwards. These events are, as always, free and open the public.
Cary Steven Howie chowie@Stanford.EDU
Mary Jane Parrine parrine@Stanford.EDU
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