What Does It Mean To Be A Reader?

Natalie ElliotThe relationship between books and readers is changing. This is as true for the publishing industry as it is for liberal arts colleges around the country. What does it mean today to be a reader? How do some of the oldest, most traditional books help us “read” the contemporary world?

At St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she teaches, Natalie Elliot has taken note that the school continues to attract the strange and wonderful human type called “The Reader” even in Digital Age. She told an audience of independent publishers gathered for last weekend’s annual PubWest 2016 Conference that like the “death of print,” the much-lamented demise of the reader may be exaggerated.

Pubwest 2016 Logo“By looking at classic books such as Euclid’s Elements, Copernicus’s Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, and Vasari’s Lives of the Artists, we are reminded of the dynamic character of reading,” Elliot said. “We also see how great books—new and old—activate the human mind to read the world in new ways. This experience gives us reason to take heart that the activity of reading has always been and will remain an evolving one.”

Natalie Elliot is currently a tutor at St. John’s College where she teaches cross-disciplinary courses in a great books program. This year she is teaching courses on music history, classical Greek, and late modern literature and philosophy. In the past she has taught courses on the history of science and mathematics, literature and politics, tragedy, and American political thought. Natalie’s current research focuses on early modern literary works that explore the beginnings of modern science. She Ph.D, in political science from the University of North Texas, with specializations in political theory and philosophy. In addition to her appointment at St. John’s, Natalie has also held research and teaching positions at The Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions, Indiana University’s Hutton Honors College, and Southern Methodist University.

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