Preserving the Real: Nicholson Baker to Speak at MHS

Acclaimed author Nicholson Baker will present a talk at Maine Historical Society on Thursday, March 15, at 7pm that explores the importance of preserving real, physical things in a world that has gone digital. This lecture is part of “The Richard D’Abate Lectures: Conversations about History, Art, and Literature,” a public program series that explores the connections between literature, art, and history.

Baker’s talk, entitled “Hold On: The Privilege of Keeping Old Things Safe,” revisits the intellectual underpinnings of Double Fold, his 2001 book about libraries, paper science, and lost history. In that book, Baker documented his efforts to save a large collection of beautiful and exceptionally rare newspaper volumes, which were being scrapped in favor of microfilmed replacements. Baker’s forceful case served as a seeming coda to the era of print, a beachhead for those who believed in the lastingness of paper, and presaged issues and arguments that historical societies, libraries, and other collecting organizations face in the digital age. Why, we are asked, do we need to keep all this ephemeral stuff now that it can be digitized?

Baker’s talk at MHS will revisit the intellectual underpinnings of his newspaper crusade, share tales of research recently done in the MHS library, and remind us of the essentialness of real things.

Nicholson Baker is the author of The Mezzanine (1988), Human Smoke: The Beginnings of WW II, the End of Civilization (2008), The Anthologist (2009), and, most recently, House of Holes: A Book of Raunch (2011) among other works of fiction and nonfiction.

This program series honors Richard D’Abate who will retire as Executive Director of Maine Historical Society in May after sixteen years. Learn more by downloading “The Richard D’Abate Lectures: Conversations about History, Art, and Literature”. All programs will be held at Maine Historical Society at 489 Congress Street, Portland. Suggested donation: $10 (MHS members $5). This series is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Maine Humanities Council.

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