First Year Reading
The summer reading assignment for all incoming students is Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. This book will be used in the First Year Experience courses this fall 2016.
As reported on the Amazon website, pre-eminent author and researcher Sherry Turkle has been studying digital culture for over thirty years. Long an enthusiast for its possibilities, she investigates a troubling consequence: at work, at home, in politics, and in love, we find ways around conversation, tempted by the possibilities of a text or an email in which we don’t have to look, listen, or reveal ourselves.
We develop a taste for what mere connection offers. The dinner table falls silent as children compete with phones for their parents’ attention. Friends learn strategies to keep conversations going when only a few people are looking up from their phones. At work, we retreat to our screens although it is conversation at the water cooler that increases not only productivity but commitment to work. Online, we only want to share opinions that our followers will agree with – a politics that shies away from the real conflicts and solutions of the public square.
The case for conversation begins with the necessary conversations of solitude and self-reflection. They are endangered: these days, always connected, we see loneliness as a problem that technology should solve. Afraid of being alone, we rely on other people to give us a sense of ourselves, and our capacity for empathy and relationship suffers.
We see the costs of the flight from conversation everywhere: conversation is the cornerstone for democracy and in business it is good for the bottom line. In the private sphere, it builds empathy, friendship, love, learning, and productivity. But there is good news: we are resilient. Conversation cures.
Based on five years of research and interviews in homes, schools, and the workplace, Turkle argues that we have come to a better understanding of where our technology can and cannot take us and that the time is right to reclaim conversation. The most human—and humanizing—thing that we do. The virtues of person-to-person conversation are timeless, and our most basic technology, talk, responds to our modern challenges. We have everything we need to start, we have each other.
"Digital culture expert and MIT professor Turkle (Alone Together) delivers a sweeping report on the various ways humans have adapted their sense of self and relationships to the digital age."
Lev Grossman, Time Magazine:
“Nobody has ever articulated so passionately and intelligently what we're doing to ourselves by substituting technologically mediated social interaction…. Equipped with penetrating intelligence and a sense of humor, Turkle surveys the front lines of the social-digital transformation….”
Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School professor and author of MOVE and Confidence:
“Sherry Turkle’s unrivalled expertise in how people interact with devices, coupled with her deep empathy for people struggling to find their identity, shine through on every absorbing and illuminating page of Reclaiming Conversation. We can start remembering how to talk to one another by talking about this timely book.”
Per the MIT website, Sherry Turkle is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT, and the founder (2001) and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Professor Turkle received a joint doctorate in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard University and is a licensed clinical psychologist. Professor Turkle writes on the "subjective side" of people's relationships with technology, especially computers. She is an expert on culture and therapy, mobile technology, social networking, and sociable robotics.
Her newest book is the New York Times bestseller, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, and, according to SherryTurkle.com, renowned media scholar Sherry Turkle investigates how a flight from conversation undermines our relationships, creativity, and productivity—and why reclaiming face-to-face conversation can help us regain lost ground.
Profiles of Professor Turkle have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Scientific American, and Wired Magazine. She has been named "woman of the year" by Ms.Magazine and among the "forty under forty" who are changing the nation by Esquire Magazine. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship, the Harvard Centennial Medal, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Professor Turkle is a featured media commentator on the social and psychological effects of technology for CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, the BBC, and NPR, including appearances on such programs as Nightline, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Frontline, Dateline, 20/20, and The Colbert Report.
Schedule of Events:
Community Reading Book Panel Discussion
Thursday, September 29, 2016, 7 p.m.
Church Street Center
Sherry Turkle’s Website:
Below is a list of past books and their authors:
- 2015 - Jeff Speck, "Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time"
- 2014 - Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide"
- 2013 - Rebecca Skloot, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks"
- 2012 - Sonia Nazario, "Enrique's Journey"
- 2011 - Soledad O'Brien, "The Next Big Story"
- 2010 - Laura Ling and Lisa Ling, "Somewhere Inside:One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home."
- 2009 - Paul Rusesabagina, "An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography"
- 2008 - James McBride, "The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother"
- 2007 - Karen Shepard, "Don't I Know You"
- 2006 - Elizabeth Royte, "Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash"
- 2005 - Tracy Kidder, "Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul "
- 2004 - Sarah Erdman, "Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village"