Free Event, registration required
“Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things,” Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden (1854), offering a warning about technology and distraction that resonates in our own time. In conversation with Daegan Miller, Caleb Smith will discuss his new book Thoreau’s Axe: Distraction and Discipline in American Culture, exploring how nineteenth-century Americans understood the problem of distraction, as well as the ways they tried to rehabilitate their powers of attention.
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Caleb Smith is a professor of English and American studies at Yale University. His books includeThe Prison and the American Imagination, The Oracle and the Curse, and an edition of Austin Reed’s 1858 prison memoir, The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict. His latest is Thoreau’s Axe: Distraction and Discipline in American Culture. More informaton can be found on Caleb’s website. (Caleb Smith photo credit: Sasha Rudensky.)
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