Featuring a visit from acclaimed poet and author Ander Monson, the DePaul Humanities Center kicked off their first event in the “Discards: The Future(s) of the Book and Library” series titled, “Letter to a Future Book and Reader” Wednesday, Feb. 11 in the Lincoln Park student center.
The evening included an interactive lecture from Monson on the subject of books, readers and libraries, and the relationships between them, which is also a significant theme in his new book, “Letter to A Future Lover.” The work, he said, is a collection of miniature essays on index cards that were influenced by and placed into numerous library books all over the world.
In addition, a puppet show that preceded Monson’s lecture illuminated the nature of archives. The show was written and performed by DePaul researcher and librarian Jessica Speer, and humorously examined the difference between archivists and hoarders.
Humanities Center Director and professor of philosophy Peter Steeves affirmed the inspiration surrounding the event, which was to evoke a discourse on the “future of the book and the future of the library.” He added that the role of technological changes associated with reading were an important consideration.
“(It) seems like it was the right time to do it,” he said. “E-books are becoming more popular, and books are starting to disappear in some ways.”
After discussing and reading passages aloud from his book, Monson gave the audience an “assignment.” Index cards were handed out to every audience member. The directions, in summary, were to write down a message on the card, place it into a random book in the John. T. Richardson library then put it back on the shelf for someone else to discover in the future.
Afterward Monson asked that participants check out a book from the library before leaving.
“Remind the circulation system of its presence,” he said.
Senior Elena Larkins, an attendee, noted the positive affects of Monson’s visit.
“We’re always talking about artists and writers theoretically in the classroom, but it’s nice to actually get out and see an author talking about their book,” she said. “It’s a pretty visceral experience I think to see someone performing their art.”
Monson is a current professor at the University of Arizona and editor of the online literary magazine DIAGRAM. Monson has also authored “Neck Deep and Other Predicaments,” “Vanishing Point,” and “Other Electricities.”
The next event in the “Discards: The Future(s) of the Book and Library” series will occur in the first week of March and will be titled “Forbidden Pages,” Steeves explained. He specified that the event will be looking at the deeper issues surrounding prohibited books.
“It’s not just about banned books…but what it means to be a book if somebody says ‘you shouldn’t read this,’” he said. “And not to only look at it as a question of freedom of the press and freedom of speech issues, but to actually think sort of philosophically about what it means to be a reader.