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Durham University

University College


Durham Castle / Future of the University Lecture - Professor N. Katherine Hayles

7th March 2018, 20:00 to 21:30, Senate Room, Durham Castle

*The Future of the University Series

Universities at the Crossroads: Directing Cultural Transformations

Universities are no longer the privileged site of knowledge creation and dissemination. Excellent online tutorials, such as the Kahn Academy, provide high quality open-access instruction in subjects once considered too esoteric to address except in a university classroom, such as calculus, linear algebra, and similar mathematical topics. In other practices universities, for example MIT, have made their entire course offerings available online at nominal or no charge. Still others offer MOOCs on a wide variety of topics. These developments pose significant challenges to traditional ideas of the university as a cloistered space where students came and learned about subjects they could not access otherwise.

Taking a cue from similar problems facing university presses, this talk will argue for a transformative vision of the university that positions it not as a separate enclosed space but as a busy informational crossroads in which the university clearly identifies the “value added” it provides and takes an active role not only in creating and disseminating knowledge but also in directing it toward better and more productive practices that contribute to human and planetary flourishing.

Topics will include the flipped classroom, the tragedy of the lecture hall, the importance of contributing to sustainable and environmental practices, and suggestions for engaging in interdisciplinary initiatives and developing robust modes of discourse that reach beyond scholarly communities to the general public.


N. Katherine Hayles is Professor of Literature at Duke University in Durham, NC, USA. Her interdisciplinary work has centered on the relations of literature, science and technology in the 20th and 21st centuries. Her multiple prize-winning book How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics is a founding text for posthuman studies, the first book-length study defining posthumanism, tracing its development from cybernetics, and exploring its cultural and literary significance. It has been adopted as a textbook in courses throughout North America, Europe and the U.K. Her work has been influential in establishing digital literature as an emerging literary practice; her book Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary is the first text to do a systematic survey of the field, along with close readings of influential works of electronic literature. She is also the co-curator of The Electronic Literature Collection I, a field-establishing collection intended for classroom use as well as a scholarly resource.

Doors open from 7.30pm.
Lectures begin at 8pm, with questions for the speaker at 9pm.

This lecture is free and open to all. You do not need a ticket or reservation. Seats are first come, first served.

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