2017 Oslo: John Durham Peters, Yale

We are pleased to announce that Dr. John Durham Peters, Professor of English and Film & Media Studies, Yale University, will be the international guest speaker at the ATTR summer school in Oslo, June 12-16, 2017.

Texts, media history and social theory

John Durham Peters is a media historian and social theorist. He is interested in media and cultural history, communication and social theory, and understanding communication in its broad historical, legal, philosophical, religious, and technological context.

Peters has published extensively on these topics. He is perhaps best known for his book Speaking into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication (1999).

For years, he has been teaching seminars on critical theory, the history of mass communication theory, media and modernity, pragmatism, the public sphere, and transnational media, and more, at the University of Iowa. He is now a professor of English and Fild & Media Studies at Yale University.

Research seminar

Professor Peters will give a research seminar on “Authoritative Texts, Paper Machines, and Media Theory" at the ATTR summer school in Oslo in 2017.


Much recent work in media theory has been fascinated with so-called paper-machines, i.e. the very diverse practices of data-storage, transmission and processing that stretch from scribal culture to digital computers. The notion of paper-machines portrays writing not only as a medium for preserving stories but also for changing and altering the world via practices such as counting, accounting, and calculating. This lecture applies media-theoretic ideas about paper-machines to authoritative texts, focusing in particular on debates about canonicity and historicity in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. The latter, published in 1830 in the midst of a wider historicist and source-critical turn, and designed explicitly as a book in dialogue with the Bible’s authoritative status, is a case study that allows us to bridge media studies and the historical-critical study of scriptural traditions. At the same moment that the Bible was being historically relativized, the Book of Mormon presented a form of scripture that foregrounded the media-mechanics of scripture making.



Published Mar. 23, 2017 9:54 AM - Last modified June 28, 2022 2:01 PM