Monday, November 2, 2009

Empire of the Word - TVO documentary series

I know I dont normally write about TV programs, but this is a documentary series to start on November 25th on the TVO channel in Ontario that I just had to mention. It involves my two biggest areas of interest - reading and history. There are 4 weekly episodes and covers the history of reading.

Official website (not open until November 25)

When did the written word first appear, and how has it changed the course of human existence? How do you make peace when all you want is revenge? And why does the most polarizing scientific theory of all time still matter 150 years after its publication? This November, TVO explores these questions and more through a thought-provoking range of documentary, drama and current affairs programming.

Wednesdays at 10 pm starting November 25 on The View From Here, TVO presents the world premiere of the four-part documentary series Empire of the Word. The jewel in the crown of TVO's season-long programming commitment to literacy, the series is an eye-opening, epic journey into the origins of reading and its impact on more than 5,000 years of human history. At the heart of the series is the question of why reading has survived throughout the ages. Host and renowned Canadian-Argentine writer Alberto Manguel takes viewers around the globe to meet the characters and revisit the events that create the story of the written word, including the genesis of the alphabet, the world's first novel, role of religion in reading; the invention of the Gutenberg press, and the technological revolution.


Mike said...


Thanks for writing about EOW. There's also going to be an online game that goes along with the documentary series. So check that out too.

Mike Miner


Could EOW provoke debate for the wrong reasons?
I'm a bit resentful. Now I have to go researching because I watched it last night.
Two Big questions.
1) The ravaging of the Iraq Museum in 2003: EOW attributed it to "a mob" but I remember seeing the tearful curator on tv telling how US military came and left as if they had a shopping-list.
A mob may have been involved, as may have US mercenaries, likely but I don't know.
But I do know the plundering was facilitated by the United States of America.
Why not give them the credit?

2) The trashing of the Alexandria museum and (my addition) the brutal death of Hypatia and her colleagues wasn't at the hands of the Romans, it was early Christian zealots.

I will have to watch all the episoded now then dig some more to find out if EOW is in the history-sanitisation business.

I suppose that's good.

Historia said...

I too thought that the "mob" was actually the US military while I was watching EOW. But they filmed the aftermath of the breakin in 2003 the day after it happend,. It is possible that at that time noone knew who did it - certainly not the day after.

As for Hypatia, I dont remember hearing her name, but I may have missed it.

Also this series was filmed over 8 years - as one can tell from the 2003 iraqi museum clip.

I did enjoy seeing the inside of the Alexandrina library - my first opportunity to see it.