Technology, Memory, and the Past that Lives Within the Present
It seems like such a new problem: Our lives are saturated with recording devices, and it's now possible to record nearly everything-- but if we do, what will become of our memory, and how will we sift through that mountain of data to discover what it means? In fact, this problem is so old that Socrates was already complaining about it 24 centuries ago. In a talk that ranged from the discovery of a massive medieval Jewish archive to the world of Google Glass, novelist and literary scholar Dara Horn explored the difference between history and memory, the double helix of free will and destiny, and the process of storytelling that gives the past its meaning.
Dara Horn was born in New Jersey in 1977 and received her Ph.D. in comparative literature from Harvard University in 2006, studying Hebrew and Yiddish. In 2007 she was chosen by Granta magazine as one of 20 “Best Young American Novelists.” Her first novel, In the Image, published by W.W. Norton when she was 25, received a 2003 National Jewish Book Award, the 2002 Edward Lewis Wallant Award, and the 2003 Reform Judaism Fiction Prize. Her second novel, The World to Come, published by W.W. Norton in 2006, received the 2006 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, the 2007 Harold U. Ribalow Prize, was selected as an Editors’ Choice in The New York Times Book Review and as one of the Best Books of 2006 by The San Francisco Chronicle, and has been translated into eleven languages. Her third novel, All Other Nights, published in 2009 by W.W. Norton, was selected as an Editors’ Choice in The New York Times Book Review and was one ofBooklist’s 25 Best Books of the Decade. In 2012, her nonfiction e-book The Rescuer was published by Tablet magazine and became a Kindle bestseller. Her fourth novel, A Guide for the Perplexed, was published by W.W. Norton in September 2013, and was selected as one of Booklist‘s Best Books of 2013 and was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.
She has taught courses in Jewish literature and Israeli history at Sarah Lawrence College and City University of New York, and served in the fall of 2014 as the Gerald Weinstock Visiting Professorship in Jewish Studies at Harvard, where she teaches Yiddish and Hebrew literature. She has lectured at over two hundred universities and cultural institutions throughout North America, in Israel and in Australia. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children.
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