Sven Birkerts

Johanna Lawshea

Sven Birkerts is the author of nine previous books, including The Other Walk, The Art of Time in Memoir, and My Sky Blue Trades. Director of the Bennington Writing Seminars, he also edits the journal AGNI based at Boston University. In 1994, Sven Birkerts published The Gutenberg Elegies, his celebrated rallying cry to resist the oncoming digital advances, especially those that might affect the way we read literature and experience art—the very cultural activities that make us human. In Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age (Graywolf Press) he examines the changes that he observes in himself and others—the distraction when reading on the screen; the loss of personal agency through reliance on GPS and one-stop information resources. Birkerts examines what is lost by our wholesale acceptance of digital innovation and what is regained when we immerse ourselves in a good book. Of Birkerts, the Chicago Tribune writes, “He doesn’t care about seeming cool or sounding smart; he writes what he thinks.”