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The Textbook and the Lecture

, 192 pages

25 halftones, 5 line drawings

November 2017



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The Textbook and the Lecture

Education in the Age of New Media

Why are the fundamentals of education apparently so little changed in our era of digital technology? Is their obstinate persistence evidence of resilience or obsolescence? Such questions can best be answered not by imagining an uncertain high-tech future, but by examining a well-documented past—a history of instruction and media that extends from Gilgamesh to Google. Norm Friesen looks to the combination and reconfiguration of oral, textual, and more recent media forms to understand the longevity of so many educational arrangements and practices.

Friesen examines the interrelationship of reading, writing, and pedagogy in the case of the lecture and the textbook—from their premodern to their postmodern incarnations. Over hundreds of years, these two forms have integrated textual, oral, and (more recently) digital media and connected them with changing pedagogical and cultural priorities. The Textbook and the Lecture opens new possibilities for understanding not only mediated pedagogical practices and their reform but also gradual changes in our conceptions of the knowing subject and of knowledge itself.

Drawing on wide-ranging scholarship in fields as diverse as media ecology and German-language media studies, Foucauldian historiography, and even archaeological research, The Textbook and the Lecture is a fascinating investigation of educational media.

Norm Friesen is a professor in the Department of Educational Technology at Boise State University. He is the editor and translator of Forgotten Connections: On Culture and Upbringing and the editor of Media Transatlantic: Media Theory in North America and German-Speaking Europe.

"Encouraging readers to look at newer forms of media used in education through a historical lens, Friesen deconstructs two successful archetypes of educational media—the lecture and the textbook—to expose their deep structure. This book should be attractive to teachers, school administrators, and anyone involved in higher education."

"In this work of meticulous interdisciplinary scholarship, Friesen provides a much-needed historical and nuanced perspective on the resonance and persistence of media in education throughout the centuries. He guides the reader through the tangled roots and continuities sustaining these often-contentious elements of education, and in doing so gives a subtle but compelling riposte to claims that in the digital age either the textbook or the lecture is 'dead.'"

"Through its multiple examples and case studies, The Textbook and the Lecture shows the philosophical assumptions underpinning longstanding debates and serves to inform and perhaps even empower educational workers by helping them understand why they do what they do."

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