Civil engineering and history professor to give book arts lecture

February 27, 2012

Henry Petroski, the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and a professor of history at Duke University, will present The 2012 Charles W. Mann Jr. Lecture in the Book Arts -- "Telling My Books by Their Covers: What's Behind the Dust Jackets?" at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 29, in the Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, on the University Park campus.

Petroski is the author of more than a dozen books, including a number of titles detailing the industrial design of common, everyday objects, such as pencils, paper clips and toothpicks. His most recent book is "An Engineer’s Alphabet: Gleanings from the Softer Side of a Profession" (2011). In "The Book on the Book Shelf" (1999), he turned his attention to the long and complex evolution of books as we know them. Petroski will speak from first-hand knowledge about the production of his own books, including his working relationships with different publishers, editors and designers. An engaging storyteller, Petroski will recount these experiences to illustrate the complexities, tensions and joys that can be involved in book production.

A reception and book signing will follow in the Mann Assembly Room, 103 Paterno Library, and a number of Petroski's books will be offered for sale.

The Charles W. Mann Jr. Lecture in the Book Arts is funded by the Mary Louise Krumrine Endowment.

The Pennsylvania State University encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you have question about physical access or special accommodations needed, please contact Shirley Davis at or 814-863-5449 in advance of your participation or visit.

  • Petroski's book, 'An Engineer's Alphabet: Gleanings from the Softer Side of a Profession,' published in 2011 by Cambridge University Press.

    IMAGE: Cambridge University Press
Last Updated January 09, 2015