Virginia Heffernan in conversation with Peter Decherney

Monday, April 3, 2017 - 12:00pm


We’ve all heard the cliché that the Internet is dangerous and making young people’s attention spans shorter. We are bringing a writer who is here to argue that this couldn’t it be more wrong. Virginia Heffernan in conversation with Peter Decherney on new positive ways to view how we interact with the Internet. With Heffernan’s writing in her book MAGIC AND LOSS: THE INTERNET AS ART, arguing that the Internet is a massive art piece in progress, she is the perfect thinker to challenge our view on what we do on the Web and what we can learn from digital studies.

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Virginia Heffernan
is a journalist and cultural critic. She has worked as a staff writer for the The New York Times--first as a TV critic, then as a magazine columnist, and then as an opinion writer. She has also worked as a senior editor for Harper's, a founding editor of Talk, a TV critic for Slate, a fact checker for The New Yorker and a national correspondent for Yahoo News. Her 2016 book MAGIC AND LOSS: THE INTERNET AS ART argues that the internet is a "massive and collective work of art" and a "work in progress," and that the suggested deterioration of attention spans in response to it is a myth. Heffernan is known as a playful, stylish, and erudite writer; in 2014 Ben Yagod in the Chronicle of Higher Education named her among his top candidates for "best living writer of English prose," and she has been called "one of the mothers of the Internet."

Peter Decherney
is Professor of Cinema and Media Studies and English at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds a secondary appointment at the Annenberg School for Communication and an affiliation with the Center for Technology, Innovation, and Competition at Penn Law School. He is the author or editor of five books including Hollywood’s Copyright Wars: From Edison to the Internet and Hollywood: A Very Short Introduction. Prof. Decherney has been an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Scholar, a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, and a U.S. State Department Arts Envoy to Myanmar. Subsequently, he returned to Myanmar to direct the short documentary, Filmmaking for Democracy in Myanmar. He is a regular contributor to Forbes, and he has won multiple teaching awards. His free online course (a MOOC) on the history of Hollywood is available though the edX platform.

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