2015-17 Distracted Reading Collective

Distracted Reading Collective: Acts of Attention in the Age of the Internet

Central to the humanities is the theorisation and practice of modes of attention (to cultural artifacts and to other aspects of the world). Indeed, many of us devote much time to finding ways to redirect our students’ attention away from the distractions of their multiple electronic gadgets. But what if we not only instruct our students in other (older?) acts of attention, but also consider how their distributed focus might enable new acts of attention and new ways of reading? How might we rethink pedagogy — and as a consequence our own research methods — in an era of hyper-connectivity?

This project brings together those already considering such questions and those who are interested in doing so, to devise and share experimental methods of teaching and researching. For example: how might we practice detailed analysis (of art, film, text or music) though the combined resources of multiple media simultaneously; how might apps and/or networking tools be used to shape new acts of attention to our objects of study; how might we better comprehend or represent lines of reasoning (critical, philosophical, historical, and others) through spatial and distributed modalities?

The plan

A consortium of faculty will undertake experiments in our teaching and/or research over the Spring semester (2016).  The experiment might take place in one teaching session, or it might be sewn into a course across the semester, or it might be part of your research or creative practice.

The Outcome

I will be publishing some posts on a new NYU DH blog for anyone who would prefer to contribute in that way.  The project will run over the Spring semester (spring 2016) and will result in a symposium at NYU in 2016-17, to which all participants are invited.


Interim Event:

Tuesday, April 26th 2016, from 6:15-7:15, in the Tech Training Room, Liberal Studies, NYU


Have you ever felt your students have a compulsive attachment to their electronic devices? Are we sometimes fighting a losing battle in the classroom to focus attention away from these multiple distractions? What new opportunities might this scenario offer?

The Distracted Reading project asks how we might harness modes of distracted attention for innovative pedagogical practices, and/or as inspiration for new scholarly research methods or creative practice.  A university-wide (and beyond) project, the aim is to bring together both those who are already experimenting with such methods and those who would like to know more, to share experience and expertise.

This informal interim event (featuring faculty from LS currently involved in the project) offers an exclusive preview, and a chance to join the conversation. Whether you are a creative practitioner or a scholar we would like to hear your thoughts.

Featuring: George Baroud, Stefanie, Goyette, Michael Rectenwald, and Marion Thain.

RSVP: Marion Thain (marion.thain@nyu.edu)