Everything old is new again

In a harried world where you can hardly escape the din of constant communication and the proliferation of electronic gadgets, there’s a nascent desire to slow down and take in the mad rush of life. You can find this peaceful revolt against modernity in the community of vinyl music enthusiasts or the slow food movement or in DIY communities that encourage personal creativity and self-sufficiency. And now there’s a community of like-minded folks who have found a similar passion in a device that is an almost perfect antithesis to modern concepts of technology.

The rediscovery of the typewriter by retro fetishists prompted filmmakers Christopher Lockett and Gary Nicholson to embark on making a documentary about the machine’s importance to both our past and our future.

The result of their work — “The Typewriter in the 21st Century” — will receive its Texas premiere in a screening at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 19, in the Fine Arts Library at the Doty Fine Arts building.

The documentary features 30+ interviews with authors, collectors, journalists, professors, bloggers, students, artists, inventors and repairmen (and women) who meet for “Type-In” gatherings to both celebrate and use their decidedly low-tech typewriters in a plugged-in world. Authors Robert Caro and David McCullough, combined winners of 4 Pulitzer Prizes, 3 National Book Awards and a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and both avid typewriter users, provide fundamental commentary about process and the value of slowing down, writing actual drafts and revising in a world of instant, draft-less editing.

The film was inspired by a May 2010 article in Wired magazine called “Meet The Last Generation of Typewriter Repairman.” Director Lockett and producer Nicholson discussed the importance of the typewriter in 20th century literature, their conclusion being that every great novel of the 20th century was written on one, and if typewriters are in their final days, they deserved to be celebrated one last time.

Funded largely through a Kickstarter campaign, the film eventually featured not only typewriter people — the aforementioned technicians, collectors, bloggers, users and fans — but famous typewriters as well. The film features machines once owned by Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Tennessee Williams, John Steinbeck, Jack London, Sylvia Plath, George Bernard Shaw, John Lennon, Joe DiMaggio, Helen Keller, the Unabomber, John Updike, Ray Bradbury and Ernie Pyle.

The screening of “The Typewriter in the 21st Century” will be followed by a Q&A featuring producer Gary Nicholson and John Payton, owner of a typewriter “museum” in Taylor, Texas.

The event will be preceded by a small public reception at 5 p.m.

Five years old

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Five years after it first launched an all-branches presence during Research Week at UT, the Libraries is again returning its Libraries Fair to the PCL plaza.

Ten campus branches of the Libraries will converge at the PCL from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. to provide a one-stop shop for students to drop by and learn about resources and services available to them across the campus. Staff from the branch libraries, and from Libraries service divisions (InterLibrary Services, UT Digital Repository and Ask A Librarian, to name a few) will be on hand to answer questions and raise awareness of various library resources, and booths will feature contests for prizes, along with treats provided by Cloud 9 Cotton Candy and Cornucopia Popcorn.

Also, for the first year, the Libraries will be joined by campus partners, including the Harry Ransom Center, the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History and the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports, as well as by typewriter poet Jena Kirkpatrick, who will be on hand to help promote the April 19 screening of “The Typewriter (in the 21st Century)” at the Fine Arts Library.

Again this year, the Fair has been scheduled to coincide with the Longhorn Research Bazaar across the street at Gregory Gym, providing students the chance to get information about undergraduate research opportunities at the university, as well as the resources behind the research, all within the distance of a stone’s throw.

Research Week is a campus-wide celebration of undergraduate research and creative activity. It unites existing programs, events and activities that showcase undergraduate research and highlights the many research opportunities available to students.