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Vermont Humanities Fall Conference Considers Impact of Technology

Image of hand with iPhone in ParisThe Vermont Humanities Council will consider many questions about technology and its role in human society at its 44th annual fall conference November 17-18 at the University of Vermont’s Dudley H. Davis Center. The conference, called The Double-Edged Sword of Technology, runs from Friday afternoon through Saturday.

Technology may be the primary source of progress, but it is also the root of numerous problems. The conference will bring humanities perspectives to technology—past, present, and future. Through three plenary talks and fourteen breakout sessions, the conference will look at technology through the lenses of history, literature, art, architecture, and ethics.

“Whether you tend to be wary or enthusiastic about technological advances, you will come away from this conference with deeper and richer perspectives on the impact of technology in culture and human behavior,” said VHC’s Community Programs Director Amy Cunningham. “I am thrilled by the lineup of exceptional speakers.”

The conference begins Friday afternoon with a choice of breakout sessions covering topics including the Industrial Revolution economy, dystopian fiction, Vermont gun makers and the Civil War, and the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Friday evening, Northwestern University economics professors Robert Gordon and Joel Mokyr will present profoundly different outlooks for America’s economic future and the role of technological innovation in their conversation, Will Technology Save Us?

Saturday includes two more plenary talks. In the morning, Amy Hungerford, literature professor and Dean of Humanities at Yale, will explore the history, practice, and meaning of sociable solitude in the Internet age in her talk, Sociable Solitude. In the afternoon, writer and cultural critic Virginia Heffernan will offer an original and far-reaching analysis of what the Internet is and what it does in her presentation, Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art.

Saturday also offers several more breakout sessions illuminating technology topics, including innovation and economic growth, technology and social change in Asia, how best to use data in the digital age, architecture and technological advance, communication technologies and society, the role of technology in solitude and fame, and war and technological advance.

Conference registration is $129 ($79 for students), which includes all conference sessions, continental breakfast, buffet lunch, and snacks. Registration and payment deadline is November 6; after the deadline, registrations will be accepted as space is available. Register for the conference online at www.vermonthumanities.org/techology.

The Vermont Humanities Council offers a fall conference each November. The conference is an opportunity to delve into a humanities topic in depth. Recent conferences have considered leadership, the legacy of the Civil War, sacred places and spaces, why stories matter, and comedy and satire.

About the Vermont Humanities Council

The Vermont Humanities Council is a private nonprofit working to bring the power and the pleasure of the humanities to all Vermonters—of every background and in every community. The Council strives to make Vermont a state in which every individual reads, participates in public affairs, and continues to learn throughout life. Because Ideas Matter.