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IS1404 E-READ Conference : «Books and Screens and the Reading Brain»

Location Vilnius University, LT
Date 27 - 29 September 2017
Calendar file .vcs  .ics

The multidisciplinary COST Action IS1404 E-READ has fostered a great deal of empirical research on the effects of the wholesale adoption of screens for reading. The conference "Books and screens and the reading brain" is intended to showcase some of the preliminary findings. What really changes and why? But these findings also need contextualisation, relating them to the history and present practice of reading and the social history of literacy. The conference is co-organized with SHARP – The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing, and takes place at Vilnius University, Lithuania, on September 27-27.

From the earliest clay tablets down to the latest touch screens: reading is an interaction of embodied humans with technology. Over time technological developments have caused numerous changes, and even transformations, in reading habits and the reading culture. The introduction of the rotary press together with industrial paper production in the nineteenth century, for example, made available cheap reading materials for the masses. This was followed by a tremendous growth not just in the number of readers but, more significantly, in the demographics of the reading public. By contrast, in the course of the second half of twentieth century, notably after the introduction of television, many unskilled readers stopped reading books.

Similarly, the current wholesale adoption of digital screens – in educational as well as leisure settings – has begun to affect our reading habits. Screens offer a substitute for reading from paper, but equally offer viewing, gaming and listening opportunities on the same device, not to mention the constant lure of the social media. This increases screen time, offering strong competition for people’s leisure time and reducing time spent on sustained (book) reading. It also raises urgent questions concerning small-and large-scale effects of technology on educational outcomes. There is evidence that screens change the reading experience in terms of memory and (in the case of fiction) transportation. It is also likely that digital texts are simply taken less seriously than texts on paper to begin with. Together with the 24/7 availability of huge amounts of searchable information, these and other changes will no doubt affect how we think about knowledge and information. It promotes just-in-time information gathering rather than memorising of facts, and thinking in terms of smaller fragments of information rather than longer chunks that have already been synthesised into knowledge.

See more, and register for the conference, here: http://www.eread.kf.vu.lt/


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