On February 5th, the American University of Beirut, Lebanon presented a lecture on the remarkable media empire created by American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. The lecture was held at the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Center for American Studies and Research. The speaker was historian Martin Puchner who covers Franklin’s life work in his broader study of the impact of the written word on history.
Literary critic, historian and philosopher, the German-born Puchner has worn many hats. Including his most recent book, The Written World: How Literature Shaped History, Puchner has published over a dozen books and is the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of Drama and of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University and the general editor of the Norton Anthology of World Literature. Thanks to edX, an online education system founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, you can even take courses taught by Martin Puchner online.
According to the description of the Beirut lecture provided by Puchner on the event invitation:
We know Benjamin Franklin as a signatory of the Declaration of Independence and author of the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, but this lecture will argue that his true impact was as a media entrepreneur. Franklin controlled every aspect of the communication technologies of his day, from paper mills and printshops to newspapers and the postal roads on which printed matter was transported across the thirteen colonies. I will discuss Franklin’s work within the context of The Written World: How Literature Shaped History, where I tell the story of literature from the earliest forms of writing to the Internet.
The lecture is about 70 minutes. Take a look: