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Jeffrey Schnapp: Knowledge Design

jeffey2_1-halfDate:     Thursday 19 May 2016

Time:     17:30 – 19:00

Venue:  Schrödinger Lecture Theatre, Fitzgerald Building, Trinity College Dublin

In partnership with the Science Gallery and the Trinity Centre for Digital Humanities, the Library of Trinity College Dublin presents Knowledge Design – a talk by Harvard polymath Jeffrey Schnapp.

Follow Jeffrey on Twitter.

Jeffrey’s presentation.

Article on Jeffrey’s ideas in the Irish Times.


The phrase Knowledge Design describes the situation in the contemporary arts and humanities that most engages me as a “digital humanist”: the fact that the form that knowledge assumes can no longer be considered a given. The tools of humanistic inquiry have become as much objects of research and experimentation as have modes of dissemination. Statistical methods press against one edge of the qualitative human sciences; graphic and information design press up against another. Laboratories arise with a team-based ethos, embracing a triangulation of arts practice, critique, and outreach, merging research, pedagogy, publication and practice. The once firm boundary line between libraries, museums, archives, and the classroom grows porous as scholarship, deprived of its once secure print-based home, starts shuttling back and forth between the stacks and the streets. In my talk, I will provide an overall mapping of this situation and single out some key nodes: the re-mediation of print, data portraiture, bridging the analogue/digital divide, and the redesign of knowledge spaces from classrooms to museums.

This is the latest event in the Library’s programme ‘The Library of the Future; the Future of the Library’ which is exploring how libraries are evolving, how they are changing physically and virtually, and how they are contributing to the research, education and cultural realm.


Jeffrey Schnapp is the founder/faculty director of metaLAB (at) Harvard and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. At Harvard, he serves as Professor of Romance Literatures and Comparative Literature, and is on the teaching faculty in the Department of Architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. In June 2015 he assumed the position of Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Piaggio Fast Forward, devoted to developing innovative solutions to the transportation challenges of the contemporary world.

His most recent books include The Electric Information Age Book (Princeton Architectural Press 2012); an anthology of essays on 20th century Italian art, literature, design, and architecture entitled Modernitalia (Peter Lang 2012); The Library Beyond the Book (Harvard University Press 2014), a publication co-authored with Matthew Battles that explores future scenarios for libraries in the digital age; and Digital Humanities, an essay on cultural heritage management issues recently published in Italian in the Meet the Media Guru series. He is the editor of the metaLABprojects series with Harvard University Press. Forthcoming in 2016 with Inventory Books is a collaboration with Adam Michaels: Blueprint for Counter Education — Expanded Reprint, a new edition of Maurice Stein and Larry Miller’s 1970 work of radical pedagogy. Among his current writing projects are a book on the 130 year history of the Piaggio Group, entitled Futurpiaggio (Rizzoli), and a comprehensive study of the artist-designer Bruno Munari, entitled Bruno Munari, A to Z (Phaidon). Other current or future projects are described under the In the Works tab of his website.

His work in the domains of media, design, digital arts and humanities, and curatorial practice includes collaborations with the Triennale di Milano, the Cantor Center for the Visual Arts, the Wolfsonian-FIU, and the Canadian Center for Architecture. His collaborative Trento Tunnels project – a 6000 sq. metre pair of highway tunnels in Northern Italy repurposed as a history museum – was featured in the Italian pavilion of the 2010 Venice Biennale of Architecture and at the MAXXI in Rome in RE-CYCLE: Strategie per la casa la città e il pianeta (autumn-winter 2011). Panorama of the Cold War, carried out with Elisabetta Terragni (Studio Terragni Architetti) and Daniele Ledda (XY comm), was exhibited in the Albanian Pavilion of the 2012 Venice Biennale of Architecture and in Erasmus Effect – Architetti italiani all’estero / Italian Architects Abroad at the MAXXI (Dec. 2013 – April 2014). He also served as chief consulting curator for BZ ’18-’45, a documentation centre built under Marcello Piacentini’s Monument to Victory in Bolzano/Bozen open to the public since July 2014. BZ ’18-’45 is one of the European Museum Forum’s finalists for the 2015 Museum of the Year award.