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Dr. Scott Schofield teaches at Rare Book School

January 31, 2017
Last week, Huron’s Dr. Scott Schofield headed to the other side of the world to share his expertise. Invited to lecture in the prestigious Rare Book School, held this year at the University of Dunedin in New Zealand, Dr. Schofield's course "Inherited Innovation: Reflecting on the History of the Book in a Digital Age," is being delivered this week to graduate students, scholars, and librarians from around the world.

The course examines the continuities and discontinuities of past and present media. Questions the class considered included, how do past practices in reading and searching compare with how we navigate today’s paper and digital environments? What is the history of social annotation and how does it inform current initiatives in crowd sourcing and social media? How does our conception of encoding change when situated within the long history of print production? Digital and paper media were considered together, and with good reason.

“I think too often we place the emphasis on the hardware, but the actions remain the same. We still critique, we still annotate, we still take notes,” Dr. Schofield says.

“The history of the book has taught me mixed media has been the norm forever.” For Dr. Schofield, it’s not a question of one technology or practice replacing another, it’s asking how we work with the three: digital, print, and handwriting. “We often think we’re showing what we’re doing when we instruct, but actively performing it is even better.” In this case, showcasing notes and annotations is the performance.

Alongside performance, however, is construction. “The humanities should be building things,” he says. This notion of actively constructing a tangible entity--in the form of interactive digital archives which engage, for instance, with early written work--challenges what we think arts and social sciences ‘do,’ but for Dr. Schofield, building new sites and technologies that work with contemporary reading practices means looking back.

Whether at the Rare Books School or Huron University College, for Dr. Schofield, teaching is a dialogue. “Conversations don’t end in class, they continue on long after a lecture ends.” For more on Dr. Schofield's course at the Rare Books School, follow the link.