Escaping the Shallows

Escaping the Shallows

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Lunchtime lecture series looks at deep reading’s revival in the digital age

The Public Digital Humanities for Lunch (PDH4L) series examines how the digital revolution in information has pushed deep reading into a form of counterculture. David Dowling will present “Escaping the Shallows: Deep Reading’s Revival in the Digital Age” from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, April 25 in the Brownell Board Room (E254 Adler Journalism Building ) on the University of Iowa campus.

Dowling’s presentation explores the collective readings of complex long-form journalism and books that are taking place through social networking and in digital formats rather than offline and in isolation.

According to Dowling, “The bleak diagnosis of the intellectual and social effects of the digital revolution in Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows (2011) has elicited a series of progressive counter-movements designed to retrieve the valuable elements of culture the Internet has threatened to eliminate.”

In his research, Dowling found that one of those reactions is a return to immersive reading of complex and textured narrative, which many believe is no longer available in the highly distracting digital environment containing increasingly brief and superficial online news.

Dowling is an assistant professor in the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and specializes in media history and digital culture. His books and articles examine how writers as individuals and as members of groups negotiate publishing and media industries to foster creative and professional growth. His forthcoming book is Emerson’s Protégés: Media and the Professionalization of Transcendentalism’s Journalists, Artists, Critics, and Poets . Nineteenth century media history and theory inform his cultural critical projects on online commerce and journalism, which include the revival of online reading in the digital age, ESPN and online literary sports journalism, and a study of the corporate appropriation of sport subcultures in today’s most lucrative athletic shoe marketing campaigns.

PDH4L presentations will be offered every week for the final part of the spring semester. On May 2, University of Nebraska-Lincoln postdoctoral research fellow Matt Lavin—who earned his doctorate in English at the UI in 2012—will present “Digital Biographies of Books: Death Comes for the Archbishop as a Case Study.” The presentation will focus on an expansion of the Willa Cather Archive that provides users with a visually rich and critically rigorous publishing history of Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927).

PDH4L talks throughout 2013 will focus on the nature and role of public digital humanities in contemporary culture. Over the course of this series, audiences will interact with prominent public digital humanities researchers and help shape the discussion of this rapidly rising field of study.

The PDH4L series is sponsored by the Digital Studio for Public Humanities (DSPH). All lectures are free and open to the public. Lunch is not provided, but participants are welcome to bring their own.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, contact Kyle Moody in advance at 513-593-9487.


Kyle Moody, Digital Studio for Public Humanities, 513-593-9487


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