Virtual Event: Perry Zurn and Dani S. Bassett


Curious Minds:
The Power of Connection

in conversation with KRISTY JOHNSON


September 16, 2022
12:00 PM ET


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Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration

Harvard Book Store welcomes PERRY ZURN and DANI BASSETT—identical twins and professors of philosophy and engineering, respectively—for a discussion of their co-authored book Curious Minds: The Power of Connection. They will be joined in conversation by physicist, neuroscientist, and engineer KRISTY JOHNSON.

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About Curious Minds

Curious about something? Google it. Look at it. Ask a question. But is curiosity simply information seeking? According to this exhilarating, genre-bending book, what’s left out of the conventional understanding of curiosity are the wandering tracks, the weaving concepts, the knitting of ideas, and the thatching of knowledge systems—the networks, the relations between ideas and between people. Curiosity, say Perry Zurn and Dani Bassett, is a practice of connection: it connects ideas into networks of knowledge, and it connects knowers themselves, both to the knowledge they seek and to each other.

Zurn and Bassett—identical twins who write that their book “represents the thought of one mind and two bodies”—harness their respective expertise in the humanities and the sciences to get irrepressibly curious about curiosity. Traipsing across literatures of antiquity and medieval science, Victorian poetry and nature essays, as well as work by writers from a variety of marginalized communities, they trace a multitudinous curiosity. They identify three styles of curiosity—the busybody, who collects stories, creating loose knowledge networks; the hunter, who hunts down secrets or discoveries, creating tight networks; and the dancer, who takes leaps of creative imagination, creating loopy ones. Investigating what happens in a curious brain, they offer an accessible account of the network neuroscience of curiosity. And they sketch out a new kind of curiosity-centric and inclusive education that embraces everyone’s curiosity. The book performs the very curiosity that it describes, inviting readers to participate—to be curious with the book and not simply about it.

Praise for Curious Minds

"Zurn and Bassett changed my mind about what curiosity is at its essence. I am now convinced that curiosity is more than wanting to know—it is wanting to connect. This bold new theory for curiosity has enormous implications for building a more curious, creative, and equitable society." —Angela Duckworth, Founder and CEO, Character Lab, Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang Professor, University of Pennsylvania

"Curious Minds not only opens up a stunning new landscape for the study of innovation and creativity, but also provides fresh, practical insights into the kernel of inquisitiveness in each of us." —Scott Barry Kaufman, host of The Psychology Podcast and author of Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization

"A brilliantly original exploration of curiosity. Reading this ambitious and joyful book is a marvelous experience in expanding the mind and the heart—in connecting all the dots to envision a better world." —Barbara M. Benedict, Charles A. Dana Professor of English, Trinity College, author of Curiosity: A Cultural History of Early-Modern Inquiry

Dani Bassett
Dani Bassett

Dani Bassett

Dani Bassett is the J. Peter Skirkanich Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, with appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering, Electrical & Systems Engineering, Physics & Astronomy, Neurology, and Psychiatry. Bassett is most well-known for blending neural and systems engineering to identify fundamental mechanisms of cognition and disease in human brain networks. Bassett’s work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Army Research Office, the Army Research Laboratory, the Office of Naval Research, the Department of Defense, the Alfred P Sloan Foundation, and the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation. Bassett has a book coming out this year with MIT Press, co-authored with philosopher and twin Perry Zurn, and titled Curious Minds: The Power of Connection.

Photo Credit: Tony & Tracy Wood Photography

Kristy Johnson
Kristy Johnson

Kristy Johnson

Kristy Johnson is a physicist, neuroscientist, and engineer whose research centers around individuals with complex neurodevelopmental differences, including rare genetic disorders, autism, and absent or limited spoken speech. Johnson received her Ph.D. from MIT and she holds both an M.S. and B.S. with highest honors in physics. At MIT, Johnson was twice named an MIT Hugh Hampton Young Fellow and three times named an MIT Media Lab Learning Innovation Fellow for her trans-disciplinary research. Johnson is currently a Rosamund Stone Zander Translational Neuroscience Center postdoctoral fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Perry Zurn
Perry Zurn

Perry Zurn

Perry Zurn is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at American University, and affiliate faculty in the Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies. He researches in political philosophy, critical theory, and trans philosophy, with special expertise in feminist philosophy, philosophies of resistance, and network theory. Zurn is the author of Curiosity and Power: The Politics of Inquiry (2021) and the co-author of Curious Minds: The Power of Connection (forthcoming 2022). Zurn is an avid hiker, rock-skipper, and gardener. But his favorite thing is words.

Photo Credit: Tony & Tracy Wood Photography

Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Event Series: Virtual Event Series

Harvard Book Store’s award-winning event series continues online! Named "Best of Boston: 2020 Best Virtual Author Series" and "2021 Best Virtual Author Series" by Boston magazine.

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