IE Program Plenary Talks: Why we write…Right from the beginning

We are pleased to welcome back Prof. Gregory Strong, formerly a co-coordinator of the IE Program, for a special talk open to all IE Program students and teachers. 

EVENT: Lecture titled “Writing to You”
WHEN: May 25, 2023 (Thursday), 4th period — from 15:05
Aoyama Gakuin University Campus (Shibuya); Room 930
TARGET AUDIENCE: All IE Program students and teachers (and any other interested parties)

Description of Talk:

What’s “writing to you”? A course assignment? A text or even a letter someone is “writing to you?” But what about the transmission, historic and cultural, of “writing to you”?

We rarely think about how much knowledge we hold in our hand in the act of writing or what we’re doing when we’re learning to read and write. Yet the goal of education everywhere is to teach people how to read their language. Writing is “an everyday miracle” which you and I access and that some estimates place at least 45,000 years after homo sapiens learned to speak. Some suggest that speaking began much sooner among early humans and that writing might have developed 1.9 million years later!

This lecture will track the history of writing from its origins in the distant past to the present, moving around the world, illustrated with photos like the stele with Hammurabi’s code in the Louvre, or the Gutenberg Bible at Keio University, one of less than 150 copies still extant.

We will move from Sumerian cuneiform to Egyptian hieroglyphics and technologies associated with it such as the Roman stylus and wax tablet, papyrus to paper and the quill, the pencil and the ballpoint pen, the Qwerty keyboard and several media such as the book, and the newspaper, and the blog, and some issues with each such as fair representation and accountability. (There will be a handout with vocabulary and several interactive parts to the lecture: students will share a cuneiform message, and compete to make words out of moveable type).


Gregory Strong is a retired professor from the English Department of Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo where he co-directed the Integrated English Program. His extensive publications include academic research, biography, and fiction. His theatre pieces have been performed, most recently, Tom Thomson Is Missing for the 2022 Vancouver Fringe Theatre Festival.

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