Martin Puchner is the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University and the general editor of the Norton Anthology of World Literature. At the ...
John P. Birkelund Lecture
The Written World: Storytelling from Mesopotamia to the Moon
Stories are much more than entertainment—they shape our world. They have inspired the rise and fall of empires and nations, sparked our understandings of basic political and philosophical concepts, and given rise to religious beliefs. In this talk, Martin Puchner, author of the bestselling The Written World (published in German as “Die Macht der Schrift. Wie Literatur die Geschichte der Menschheit formte”), discusses world literature by focusing on the intersection of storytelling and writing technologies, including the inventions of paper, parchment, print, and the internet. He describes four stages of literature, from foundational epics and the proverbs of master teachers such as Buddha and Socrates to the rise of story collections and modern world literature, all to gauge how literature has influenced the course of history.