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RED Project

The Reading Experience Database (RED), 1450–1945

Forthcoming Events and Calls for Papers

Details of forthcoming events will be added as they become available.


Authors, Publishers and Readers: Selling and distributing literary cultures, 1880-1940

With Mary Hammond, Nickianne Moody, and Shafquat Towheed

This conference will mark the AHRC project at the University of Reading, ‘The Impact of Distribution and Reading Patterns on the History of the Novel in Britain, 1880-1940’. Topics that will be covered include:

  • commercial circulating libraries and the rise of the public library movement
  • bookshops and new retail outlets
  • reading, genre and the stratification of the fiction market
  • audience and literary censorship
  • using publishers’ and book trade archives

Saturday 24th March, 2012, 10am-5pm, Conference Room, Special Collections, Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), Redlands Road.

For further information and the Call For Papers contact:
Patrick Parrinder, Andrew Nash and Nicola Wilson
+44 (0)118 378 8360
The Call for Papers will close on 16 December 2011.


Organised by The Open University’s Book History and Bibliography Research Group, and the Institute of English Studies, University of London.

Venue: Room ST273 Stuart House, Malet St, London, WC1E 7HU. Tel: 0207 8628675

Saturday 12 February 2011 (14.00-17.00)

  • Edmund King (The Open University): ‘A Captive Audience? The Reading Lives of Australian Prisoners of War, 1914-18’
  • Jonathan Black (Kingston University): ‘Reading Behind The Lines: Letters between British official war artists and writers of the First World War.’

Saturday 26 February 2011 (14.00-17.00)

  • Jonathan Arnold (IES, University of London): ‘“Please send me Tess of the Dr Rbyvilles (Harding)”: Reading preferences of American Soldiers and Sailors during World War One.’
  • Jane Potter (Oxford Brookes University): ‘Khaki and Kisses: Reading the Romance Novel in the Great War.’

Saturday 12 March 2011 (14.00-17.00)

  • Alisa Miller (Christ Church, University of Oxford): ‘Towards a popular canon: Poetry, war and authorial identity in Europe, 1914-1929’
  • Sara Mori (IES, University of London): ‘Reading during the First World War: the experience of Gabinetto G.P. Vieusseux of Florence.’

Saturday 26 March 2011 (14.00-17.00)

  • Santanu Das (Queen Mary, University of London): ‘Reading India, Writing War: South Asian sepoys, empire and the First World War.’
  • Max Saunders (King’s College London): ‘Impressions of War: Ford Madox Ford, Reading, and Parade’s End.’

Organisers: Dr Edmund King (The Open University), Research Associate, and Dr Shafquat Towheed (The Open University), Project Supervisor/Co-investigator, ‘The Reading Experience Database, 1450-1945’ (RED).

The International Centre for the History of Crime, Policing and Justice (ICHPCJ) announces a new event:

‘Criminal Book History’

18 February 2011
Meeting Rooms 1, 2 & 3, Wilson A, Walton Hall, The Open University

This themed seminar explores the links between histories of crime and the history of print in the nineteenth century. Crime and its punishment has long been a topic which has attracted readers and filled the coffers of publishers. However, from the turn of the nineteenth century, developments in printing technology, the emergence of cheap publications and rising literacy levels meant that interactions between crime and print culture flourished. The four papers at this seminar will explore the ways in which crime shaped forms of writing, publishing, print distribution and reading.

To register your attendance, please use the attached form, or email Yvonne Bartley.


  • 10:30-11:00: Arrival, Tea/Coffee
  • 11:00-12:00: Kirsty Reid (University of Bristol): ‘Writing the Voyage: Convict ship newspapers and the journey to Australia’
  • 12:00-13:00: Lunch
  • 13:00-14:00: Alice Smalley (Open University): ‘Illustrating Crime: Visual representations of crime in the late nineteenth century newspaper’
  • 14:00-15:00: Natalie Pryor (University of Southampton): ‘Defining Obscenity: The problems of prosecuting literature in the mid nineteenth century’
  • 15:00-15:15: Tea/ Coffee
  • 15:15-15:45: Rosalind Crone (Open University): ‘”The prison and myself are becoming quite a show”: Elizabeth Fry’s prison project revisited’
  • 15:45-16:00: Wrap Up

Institutions of Associational Reading: New Perspectives on Library History c.1750-1850

A one-day international workshop, 28 January 2011

To celebrate a new collaboration between Liverpool’s Eighteenth-Century Worlds Research Centre and the Liverpool Athenaeum (one of Britain’s most important historical subscription libraries, founded in 1798), we will be hosting a major international workshop exploring new perspectives on the contribution made by libraries and other institutions of associational reading to the cultural, intellectual, political, military, social and religious history of the global eighteenth century.

The recent upsurge in interest in the history of reading has opened up numerous new interpretative avenues for scholars. Libraries, book clubs and reading circles have attracted particular attention, as scholars seek to recover the physical, administrative and cultural environments in which reading took place. Institutions of reading promised access to a much wider range of books than most members could possibly afford, but they were hugely significant in other ways. Libraries emerged to serve particular communities, reflecting the specialist demands of imperial garrisons, dissenting academies and informal networks of medical men and lawyers. Associational libraries provided a forum for conversation, debate and sociability, and made a key contribution to the social impact of the Enlightenment, the growth of nationalism and the spread of religious evangelicalism. Since they emerged in Britain, North America and continental Europe at around the same time, they also provide endless opportunities for comparative history – with different territories adopting distinctive organisational models, yet consuming a remarkably similar canon of international bestsellers.

Speakers will include:

  • Sarah Arndt (Trinity College, Dublin), ‘The Belfast Society for Promoting Knowledge: An Atlantic Context.’
  • Rosemary Dixon and Kyle Roberts (Queen Mary University, London), ‘Virtual “magazines of learning”: the Dissenting Academy Libraries Project, 1720-1860.’
  • Michael Eamon (Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario), ‘The Quebec Library: Entitlement or Enlightenment on the Colonial Periphery?’
  • Arnold Lubbers (Amsterdam), ‘Reading Circles and the Rise of Cultural Nationalism in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, 1815-1830’
  • Sharon Murphy (St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra), ‘Libraries, Schoolrooms, and Mud Gadowns:(Formal)Scenes of Reading at East India Company Stations in India, c. 1819-1835.’
  • Mark Towsey (Liverpool), ‘Imprisoned Reading: French Prisoners of War at the Selkirk Subscription Library, 1811-1814.’
  • Lynda Yankaskas (Virginia Commonwealth University), “‘To Seek and Promote the Public Good”: Village Library Societies in the Era of the American Revolution.’

For more information, to register or to submit further papers, please contact Dr Mark Towsey.

All are welcome, registration is free!

The Bible in the Seventeenth Century: The Authorised Version Quatercentenary (1611-2011)

7th - 9th July 2011

Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies: University of York


Contact: Dr Kevin Killeen

This conference, timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the 1611 King James Bible, will look at the reception of the Bible in the early modern era. It will bring together an impressive range of scholars from a variety of disciplines, to assess the significance of the scriptures to cultural, political, theological and philosophical history throughout the long seventeenth century.

Papers are invited on any aspect of the reception and use of the Bible in the early modern era and might include: political, cultural or literary uses of the Bible; the history of reading and the early modern scriptures; the reception of biblical figures; the role of individual biblical books; translation and biblical scholarship in the era; theology and the Bible; Old Testament / New Testament reception; the Bible and other religions; women and the bible; anti-Catholicism and the Bible; the Radical Bible; the Bible and class.

Speakers Include: Sharon Achinstein, Hugh Adlington, David Appleby, Gordon Campbell, Elizabeth Clark, Karen Edwards, Lori Anne Ferrell, Christopher Haigh, Paul Hammond, Hannibal Hammlin, Tom Healy, Mark Knights, Peter Lake, Barbara Lewalski, Erica Longfellow, Judith Maltby, Scott Mandelbrote, Peter Marshall, Peter McCullough, Nick McDowell, David Norton, Roger Pooley, Joad Raymond, Anne Prescott, Jane Shaw, Jonathan Sheehan, Alison Shell, Yvonne Sherwood, Deborah Shuger, Nigel Smith, Peter Stallybrass, Alex Walsham, Helen Wilcox, Susan Wiseman, Blair Worden, Stephen Zwicker.


Cultures of Correspondence in Early Modern Britain, 1550-1640,
University of Plymouth,
14–16 April 2011.

A Joint Conference organised by the Centre for Humanities, Music and Performing Arts at the University of Plymouth and the Centre for Early Modern Studies at the University of Aberdeen.

This conference investigates the cultural uses of the letter, and the related practises of correspondence in early modern culture. Concentrating on the years 1550-1640, it examines a crucial period in the development of the English vernacular letter that saw a significant extension of letter-writing skills throughout society and an expansion in the uses to which letters were put. The conference aims to enhance our understanding of epistolary culture and to challenge accepted models of epistolarity through the study of letter-writing practices in all their nuanced complexity, ranging from the textual production of letters, their subsequent delivery and circulation, to the various ways in which letters were read and preserved for posterity.

Proposals are invited for papers that treat the following key areas:

  • The materiality of the letter: the physicality of correspondence (paper, ink, seals, folding) as well as the social context of epistolarity (composition, delivery, reading, archiving)
  • Correspondence networks; the circulation of letters; postal systems and modes of delivery
  • Letters, news and intelligence
  • Authenticity, deception and surveillance: forgeries, secrecy, ciphers and codes
  • Women’s letters and the gendered nature of letter-writing
  • Epistolary literacies, social hierarchies and the acquisition and diffusion of letter-writing skills
  • Manuscript letters and letters in print
  • The letter as a cultural genre and the rhetorics of letter-writing
  • Humanistic letter-writing practices and the familiar letter; letter-writing manuals and models; education, pedagogy and learning to write letters
  • Categories or types of letters: suitors’ letters, letters of petition, love letters, letters of condolence
  • Genres of printed letters: prefatory letters, dedicatory letters, address to the readers
  • Staging the letter: letters and letter-writing in drama
  • Editing and the digitization of correspondence

Proposals for papers, including titles and abstracts (of no more than 300 words) should be sent to James Daybell and Andrew Gordon before 1st July 2010.


Exploring Victorian Subjectivity: Nineteenth-Century British Diaries.
2011 MLA Proposed Special Session,
6–9 January 2011.

Paper proposals are being accepted for a special session at the 2011 MLA convention in Los Angeles (6-9 January). Requesting papers that discuss examples of private and/or published nineteenth-century British diary writing. Work with manuscript materials especially welcome. Please send 250-word abstracts for 20-minute papers by 2 March 2010 to Lynn M. Linder.

For further information, please visit the conference website.

World War I New Zealand soldiers reading the daily news sheet, France

[Soldiers reading the daily news sheet, France, 20 Apr 1918. Alexander Turnbull Library, New Zealand, Reference No. 1/2-013145-G.]

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