Culture as Commonwealth; Why Art & Ideas Should Be Held In Common

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A poet, essayist, translator, and cultural critic, Hyde has a particular interest in the public life of the imagination. In his book, "The Gift" (Vintage 1983), he draws from past and present practice a set of stories, metaphors, images, and terms, and elaborates on them to create useful tools that can be brought to bear in discussions of our common assets, especially those intangibles that constitute our cultural inheritance. Hyde is currently at work on a book about our "cultural commons," that vast store of ideas, inventions and works of art that we have inherited from the past and continue to produce.

A MacArthur Fellow and former director of undergraduate creative writing at Harvard University, Hyde teaches during the fall semesters at Kenyon College, where he is the Richard L. Thomas Professor of Creative Writing. During the rest of the year he lives in Cambridge, Mass., where he is a Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

In this election season, in which we can feel bombarded with messages of difference (real or perceived), our dialogue symposium raises the question of the common wealth. What do we all need, value and care about? What lies beneath our differences, whether in politics, gender, class, race or religion? What is not a commodity, but actually belongs to us all and to future generations?" writes Sarah Buie, director of the Difficult Dialogues Project and Clark's Higgins School of Humanities.

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