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The Repair Manual

The Repair Manual

Sep 18, 2023
– 1:30pm
102 Kern Building

The Comparative Literature Luncheon Series presents: The Repair Manual
Shannon Mattern (University of Pennsylvania)

See the event flyer

In this talk we’ll survey the history, politics, and aesthetics of the repair manual as a didactic genre and creative form. We’ll examine how the manual functions as a means of
“infrastructural inversion,” calling attention to the systems that enable infrastructures to function; and, through the work of various artists and designers, we’ll explore how the genre might allow us to translate between the individualized refurbishment of objects and the collective maintenance of systems and societies.

Shannon Mattern is the Penn Presidential Compact Professor of Media Studies and the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her undergraduate degrees at Penn State. From 2004 to 2022 she served in the Department of Anthropology and the School of Media Studies at The New School in New York City. Her writing and teaching focus on archives, libraries, and other media spaces; media infrastructures; spatial epistemologies; and mediated sensation and exhibition. She is the author of The New Downtown Library: Designing with Communities; Deep Mapping the Media City; Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: 5000 Years of Urban Media, all published by University of Minnesota Press; and A City Is Not a Computer, published by Princeton University Press. She also contributes a regular long-form column about urban data and mediated infrastructures to Places Journal. In addition, she serves as president of the board of the Metropolitan New York Library Council and regularly collaborates on public design and interactive projects and exhibitions. You can find her at