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The Reading Experience Database (RED), 1450–1945

RED Letter: The Newsletter of the Reading Experience Database


Edited by Rosalind Crone and Katie Halsey

I have been sifting through the Life and Letters of the prolific Victorian historian and critic Thomas Babbington Macaulay recently, which has been a thoroughly rewarding but also humbling experience. It has been rewarding because Macaulay was meticulous about recording his reading, commenting on, annotating and dating his reading experiences. This is wonderful material for the database. It has been humbling, though, because of the sheer range and diversity of the works that Macaulay managed to work through within a very short time period, and because of the tenacity and dedication he showed in his reading. Many of his Greek and Latin texts, for example, show evidence of having been read two, three or four times over a four-year period, and on each reading new annotations and incisive comments appear. I banish the sense of my own inadequacy as a reader with the thought that most readers do not have Macaulay’s dedication, turning to one of Katherine Mansfield’s letters for light relief and a salutary reminder that reading can be a chore as well as a pleasure: “Never did cowcumber lie more heavy on a female’s buzzum than your curdling effugion which I have read twice and won’t again if horses drag me…”

When we have not been engaged in entering reading experiences like these into the database, our efforts since July have been largely directed towards putting in place some technical improvements, designed to make the online form and the database itself more accessible and user-friendly. The process of technical change is slow, but we hope it will be worth it in the end. In the meantime, can we encourage anyone trying to enter material into the database to use our hard copy form, available from Katie or Rosalind, or to download as Word and rtf documents on the website at The new form will be online and available for use as soon as possible; please be patient in the meantime and please keep making a note of any references to reading that you find in the course of your own work. We very much hope that the new shorter, clearer form will encourage you all to contribute material! The technical support team is also hard at work transferring the current version of RED to new and better software, and we are taking the opportunity at this time to verify and edit all entries.
New on the website are a selection of links to other sites that readers of RED Letter may find interesting or useful (; a list of the current contents of the database (, and a list of famous readers whom we would like to have in the database ( If anyone would like to volunteer to work through the materials of these readers (or indeed any others), we would, of course, be delighted to hear from you.

We have also been working hard to publicise RED as widely as possible, and our thanks go to Guy Pringle and Sheila Ferguson of newbooks magazine, Louisa Symington and Alice Berry at Penguin, Juliet Wragge-Morley of the British Council, Anouk Lang and Danielle Fuller at the Beyond the Book project, Jonathan Heawood at EnglishPEN, Sydney Shep at SHARP News and Gillian Dow at the Chawton House Library for their help in this area. Thanks too to Jenny Hartley for all her help and advice.

We also, of course, owe an enormous debt of thanks to our volunteers, who are currently working through letters, diaries, commonplace books, memoirs, autobiographies and other materials to record evidence of the reading of a wide variety of nineteenth- and twentieth-century readers. Among these readers are well-known philosophers, poets, novelists, musicians and politicians: Rudyard Kipling, Siegfried Sassoon, Virginia Woolf, John Stuart Mill, Thomas and Jane Carlyle, Jane Austen, Leslie Stephen, Bryher, John Ireland, Cardinal Newman and E.M. Forster. Other volunteers are working through the reading experiences of lesser-known readers, using family archives, public record offices, and privately-owned manuscript material. Thanks also to all those who have contacted us with references, sources and suggestions. Because of constraints of space, we will not acknowledge you all by name here, but we salute and thank you in our RED Hall of Fame (

We welcome brief reviews of works on any aspect of the history of reading for publication in forthcoming issues of RED Letter. These should be sent to, or as Word documents of no more than 500 words. Do please remember also that we are very happy to publicise announcements for new publications and conferences, seminars or workshops in this general field, both on the website and in RED Letter. And if you would like to get involved in the project in any way please do contact one of us.

Contact Details:  
Rosalind Crone
Literature Department
Faculty of Arts
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
Katie Halsey
Institute of English Studies
School of Advanced Study
University of London
Malet Street
Tel : +44 (0)1908 652092 Tel: +44 (0) 20 7862 8861
Email: Email:

Forthcoming Events and Calls for Papers

Publishing Periodicals: Seminars in Book History and Bibliography 2006
University of London, Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study
Organised by the Book History and Bibliography Research Group, the Open University, and the Institute of English Studies, University of London
Mondays, 5:30-7pm

Venue: Room ST273 (2nd Floor, Stewart House), Senate House, Malet St, London, WC1E 7HU. Tel: 020 78628675


November 6th, 2006
David Finkelstein (Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh)
‘Rating Literary Standing through Victorian Periodical Contents Pages: a case study of The Maid of Sker’

November 20th, 2006
Sally Ledger (Birkbeck, University of London)
‘Household Words: Politics and the Mass Market’

January 29th, 2007
Suzanne Paylor and Jim Mussell (Birkbeck, University of London)
‘“A picture or a Thousand Words”: the use of images in the nineteenth-century periodical press and how they are reproduced today’

February 12th, 2007
Joanne Shattock (University of Leicester)
‘The Reviewing Culture 1830-1860’

February 26th, 2007
Bernard Capp (University of Warwick)
‘Cheap print and the stars: almanacs and the almanac-trade in early modern England’

March 12th, 2007
Isobel Armstrong (Birkbeck, University of London)
‘Trade Union Poetics: Poems in The Flint-Glass Makers’ Magazine over the great strike of 1858-9’

Organiser: Dr Mary Hammond, the Open University


History of the Book Seminar at Cambridge (2006-2007)

Trinity College, Cambridge, 5:30 pm

Thursday, 12 October, Private Supply Room
Richard Serjeantson (Trinity) and Tom Woolford (Trinity), 'Manuscript, print, and censorship: the failed suppression of Francis Bacon's Certain considerations (1604) '

Thursday, 26 October, Private Supply Room
Fred Schurink (Newcastle), '"Like a hand in the margine of a booke": William Blount's marginalia and the politics of Sidney's Arcadia'

Thursday, 9 November, Allhusen Room
Kevin Everest (Liverpool), 'The composition and publication history of Shelley's Adonais'

Thursday, 23 November, Allhusen Room
Peggy Smith (Reading), 'The decline of hand rubrication in early printed books: methodological problems'

For further information, please contact the convenors:
Dr Anne Henry, Trinity College (
Dr Andrew Taylor, Trinity College (

Public Lecture: "Faintly Troubling the Darkness": Casting a Little Light on the History of the Book
9 November 2006 - 6pm
Beveridge Hall, Senate House, London

Inaugural Lecture by Professor Simon Eliot, the UK's first chair in the History of the Book (appointed December 2005)

He was previously Senior Lecturer in Literature at the Open University and Professor of Publishing and Printing History at the University of Reading. The lecture will raise the problems of materiality and scale in Book History. It will explore the need to work, on the one hand, with small-scale physical details and individual cases and, on the other, on large-scale quantitative and economic trends - and yet keep commerce between them. This will then be illustrated by discussing the problems of artificial lighting before the mid-19th Century - both on its largest scale and on its smallest: how lighting, for instance, might have affected the individual reader's experience of a book. The lecture will conclude by viewing some of the texts of the period in the light of this book historical research.

If you would like to attend please contact the Administrator, Institute of English Studies: tel +44 (0)20 7862 8675; Email

Books, Scrapbooks and Albums: one day workshop

4 November 2006 - 10am-6pm
Room ST274/5, Institute of English Studies, Senate House, University of London, London

Convened by the Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies

Speakers: Lucy Peltz, Sarah Davison, Brian Maidment, Patrizia di Bello, Vicky Mills, Esther Leslie

Themes: material and visual cultures of books and collecting; extra-illustration or grangerizing; scrapbooking; album-making; binding and unbinding; cutting and pasting; the tactile and visual dimensions of books, scrapbooks, albums; books as collections, paper museums, things; bibliophilia and bibliomania.

Draft Programme

9.30 Registration
10.00 Opening Remarks
10.15 Extra-Illustration
Lucy Peltz (National Portrait Gallery), 'Hydra-Headed Monsters: portrait print collecting and the rise of extra-illustration in the late eighteenth century'
Sarah Davison (Oxford) on Max Beerbohm's Extra-illustrated books
12.00 Preliminary perusal of scrapbooks & albums on display. In preparation for this workshop participants are encouraged to read Patrizia di Bello's article on Mrs Birkbeck's Album (available online at
12.30 Lunch (own arrangements)
1.45 Scrapbooking and Album-making
Brian Maidment (Salford), 'Scraps and the Print Trade 1820-1840'
Patrizia di Bello (Birkbeck), 'Scrapbooks and albums: visual, tactile and interdisciplinary objects'
Mike Baron (Birkbeck), 'Response: Manuscript albums of the 1820s: a literary perspective'
3.30 Break (further chance to peruse scrapbooks and album)
4.00 Books in Fiction, Theory, Comic Strip
Vicky Mills (Birkbeck), on Bibliophilia and Bibliomania
Esther Leslie (Birkbeck), 'From Childhood to Hell: Image-Text in Blake, Benjamin, Alan Moore: Writing in Images'
5.30 Discussion and Conclusion

Registration: £30; concessions: £20; postgraduates can apply for a subsidy to cover registration

Registration & Registration enquiries: Further info:

Textual Scholarship and the Material Book
Comparative Approaches

Third International Conference of the European Society for Textual Scholarship
23-25 November 2006
Hosted by the Institute of English Studies and the Institute of Classical Studies
(School of Advanced Study, University of London)

Keynote Speakers
Almuth Grésillon (ITEM, Paris ), Graham Reese (Queen Mary, University of London ), Nigel Wilson ( University of Oxford )

Panel Speakers
Bodo Plachta (University Amsterdam ) and Sukanta Chaudhuri ( Jadavpur University , Kolkota)

Further information is available on the website at:

History of Records and Archives

The Third International Conference on the History of Records and Archives (I-CHORA 3) will be held in Boston, Massachusetts on September 27-29, 2007, hosted by the Massachusetts Historical Society.

The theme of the conference will be the history of personal records and personal recordkeeping practices. This theme is intended to cover the full range of personal documents—including, for example, letters, diaries, journals, and scrapbooks—both as document types and as parts of recordkeeping systems that document personal life. Topics may include, but are not limited to the following areas:

the forms of personal records
the motivations for making and keeping personal records
the collecting of personal records by individuals and archival repositories
cross-disciplinary perspectives on personal records
needs for research in the area of personal records
Further information from:

Organising Committee:
Barbara Craig, University of Toronto
Philip B. Eppard, University at Albany, SUNY
Heather MacNeil, University of British Columbia
Brenda Lawson, Massachusetts Historical Society

media in transition 5: creativity, ownership and collaboration in the digital age
international conference
April 27-29, 2007
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

CALL FOR PAPERS (submission deadline: Jan. 5, 2007)

Our understanding of the technical and social processes by which culture is made and reproduced is being challenged and enlarged by digital technologies. An emerging generation of media producers is sampling and remixing existing materials as core ingredients in their own work. Networked culture is enabling both small and large collaborations among artists who may never encounter each other face to face. Readers are actively reshaping media content as they personalize it for their own use or customize it for the needs of grassroots and online communities. Bloggers are appropriating and recontextualizing news stories; fans are rewriting stories from popular culture; and rappers and techno artists are sampling and remixing sounds.

These and related cultural practices have generated heated contention and debate. What constitutes fair use of another's intellectual property? What ethical issues are posed when sounds, images, and stories move from one culture or subculture to another? Or when materials created by a community or religious or ethnic tradition are appropriated by technologically powerful outsiders? What constitutes creativity and originality in expressive formats based on sampling and remixing? What obligations do artists owe to those who have inspired and informed their work and how much creative freedom should they exercise over their borrowed or shared materials?

One source of answers to such questions lies in the past – in the ways in which traditional printed texts – and films and TV shows as well – invoke, allude to and define themselves against their rivals and ancestors; and – perhaps even more saliently – in the ways in which folk and popular cultures may nourish and reward not originality in our modern sense, but familiarity, repetition, borrowing, collaboration.

This fifth Media in Transition conference, then, aims to generate a conversation that compares historical forms of cultural expression with contemporary media practices. We hope this event will appeal widely across disciplines and scholarly and professional boundaries. For example, we hope this conference will bring together such figures as:

  • anthropologists of oral and folk cultures
  • historians of the book and reading publics
  • political scientists and legal scholars interested in alternative approaches to intellectual property
  • media educators who aim to help students think about their ethical responsibilities in this new participatory culture
  • artists ready to discuss appropriation and collaboration in their own work
  • economists and business leaders interested in the new relationships that are emerging between media producers and consumers
  • activists and netizens interested in the ways new technologies democratize who has the right to be an author

Among topics the conference might explore:

  • history of authorship and copyright
  • folk practices in traditional and contemporary society
  • appropriating materials from other cultures: political and ethical dilemmas
  • poetics and politics of fan culture
  • blogging, podcasting, and collective intelligence
  • media literacy and the ethics of participatory culture
  • artistic collaboration and cultural production, past and present
  • fair use and intellectual property
  • sampling and remixing in popular music
  • cultural production in traditional and developing societies
  • Web 2.0 and the "architecture of participation"
  • creative industries and user-generated content
  • parody, spoofs, and mash-ups as critical commentary
  • game mods and machinima
  • the workings of genre in different media systems
  • law and technological change

Short abstracts of no more than 200 words for papers or panels should be sent via email to Brad Seawell at no later than January 5, 2007. Brad can be reached by phone at 617-253-3521. Email submissions are preferred, but abstracts can be mailed to:

Brad Seawell
Cambridge, MA 02139

Printing in England: The First 25 Years
British Library, London, 11 December 2006

A one-day conference to launch volume XI of the Catalogue of Books Printed in the XVth Century Now in the British Library (BMC)

The British Library announces the forthcoming publication (by Hes & De Graaf Publishers of the Netherlands) of the latest volume, describing the output of the first English printing-houses, in a series of catalogues of the Library's incunabula that began in 1908.

On Monday 11 December 2006 the British Library will hold a conference to celebrate the new catalogue, which has been edited and compiled by Lotte Hellinga with contributions from Paul Needham, Margaret Nickson and John Goldfinch.

It contains full descriptions of the Library's collection of English incunabula and includes an extensive Introduction describing in detail the arrival of printing in England and its early development, with sections on the printers, their technique, the texts and their readers, typography, paper, early owners and the development of the Library's collection.

The conference will aim to define the ways in which the new catalogue can be used as a starting block for new explorations in the history of printing in England.

Speakers will include Maureen Bell, Julia Boffey, Cristina Dondi, A.S.G. Edwards, Mary Erler, Margaret Ford, William Kuskin, James Mosley, Paul Needham, David Pearson, Susan Powell.
Participation is free, but registration is required.

For further information, please contact John Goldfinch,
To register please contact Teresa Harrington, British and Early Printed Collections, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB, United Kingdom. T +44 (0)20 7412 7785. E-mail:

Print Culture and the Novel, 1850 -1900
English Faculty, University of Oxford, 20 January 2007

Organisers: Adelene Buckland and Beth Palmer

No longer was it possible for people to avoid reading matter; everywhere they went it was displayed - weekly papers at a penny or twopence, complete books, enticing in their bright picture covers, at a shilling, and all fresh and crisp from the press. No wonder that the fifties, which saw the spread of Smith's stalls to almost every principal railway line in the country, were also the period when the sales of books and periodicals reached unprecedented levels.

2007 will mark fifty years since the publication of Richard Altick's ground breaking The English Common Reader and as the influential work approaches its half-century it is perhaps time to consider, review and collate recent scholarly work addressing one of the main concerns of the text: the relationship between print culture and the novel.
This conference seeks to interrogate the various relationships not only between the novel and the periodical, but between a whole range of emergent print forms as they developed in the period, such as advertising, illustration, cartoons and pamphlets. Adumbrated in the Common Reader, the ways in which the novel was made available to readers can be productively re-thought in the light of new research taking place in this field.

Further information can be found on the website:

The Books of Venice: A Conference on the Book in Venice
Venice, Italy, March 9-10, 2007

Venice’s books, like the buildings described by Ruskin, have long been considered one of her greatest glories. Venice and the Veneto were hosts to some of the earliest book printers in Italy; the workplace of master publishers from Aldus Manutius in the sixteenth century to the Remondini in the eighteenth; the home of remarkable libraries such as those of Cardinal Bessarion and Girolamo Ascanio Molin; and the subject of countless works of fact and fiction. The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP) announces a conference to bring together in Venice scholars of Venice to consider its remarkable roles in book history, including but not limited to such topics as:

  • The book trade in Venice
  • Print and manuscript in Venice
  • La Serenissima Stampata: Venice in books and prints
  • Fictional Venice
  • Venice and Beyond

The papers selected will be presented in three half-day plenary sessions at the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti.
The keynote addresses will be given by Lilian Armstrong (Wellesley College), Neil Harris (Università di Udine) and Marino Zorzi (Biblioteca Marciana). There will also be a half-day lecture and workshop called “Printing in the Shadow of Aldus Manutius.” It will be led by Peter Koch of Editions Koch, and will give participants an introduction to their work, including their new fine-press edition of Joseph Brodsky’s Watermark.

The conference is sponsored by the Biblioteca Marciana and the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti and generously supported by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

A World Elsewhere: Orality, Manuscript and Print in Colonial and Post-Colonial Cultures
An international conference to be held at the Centre for the Book, Cape Town, 2-4 April 2007

Contact: Mark Espin, PO Box 15254, Vlaeberg, Cape Town 8018, South Africa; or e-mail A preliminary programme should be announced by 1 December 2006.

The conference will address a wide range of questions relating to `the history of the book' in colonial and post-colonial contexts. Relevant topics include:

  • national and transnational communities of letters;
  • alternative public spheres;
  • censorship;
  • the history of reading and reading theories;
  • reviewing and criticism;
  • authorship;
  • sociologies of the text;
  • text and image;
  • the economies of cultural prestige;
  • media history;
  • the cultures of collecting;
  • library history;
  • literacy;
  • oral cultures;
  • orality and print;
  • printing and publishing history;
  • the marketing and distribution of books;
  • the electronic text;
  • and the future of the book.

The First International Making Books, Shaping Readers Conference
University College, Cork, April 18th - 20th 2007
Theme: "Making an Audience"

The research project Making Books, Shaping Readers ( invites papers for a conference on "Making an Audience". This conference will explore how different publications of the material text posit not only different audiences, but also different notions of an audience. Papers might focus on the kind of audiences texts invite; on how shifts in the methods of textual production record a shift in the role of the reader from medieval to contemporary times; on how the act of reading is inscribed in the book; ways in which the production of a text defines its ideal audience; and on how a text's transmission over time effects how it is read. We are also concerned with tracing the actual reader/audience of a text through, perhaps, marks and annotations in the text. The analysis of how audiences are both inscribed in, and inscribe, the material book demands an interdisciplinary approach, therefore we invite papers from scholars in all disciplines. We are interested in all aspects of how audiences are made via the various forms of textual materialities, including e-texts.

This conference encourages a broad interpretation of the notion of an audience in keeping with the etymology of the word. The term audience, which derives from the Latin audenita, "a hearing, listening", from awis, "to perceive physically, to grasp", and from the nineteenth century transformation of the sense of the word to "readers of a book", reflects the way in which technologies of the word have changed throughout history, from oral, to manuscript, to print. Selected papers may be included in an edited volume of essays, and accepted abstracts will be published on the MBSR website prior to the conference.

Abstracts (300-500 words) should be sent to: Making Books, Shaping Readers Conference, Dept. of English, University College Cork, Ireland, or (preferably) by email to, by Friday, October 27th 2006.

All queries can be directed to the organisers, Siobhán Collins, Carrie Griffin and Mary O' Connell, at

Writing Landscape:
An Inter-disciplinary Symposium for Scholars in the Arts and Humanities Supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council
Monday, 19 March 2007, Stewart House, University College London

We invite proposals for papers at an inter-disciplinary one-day symposium on “Writing Landscape”. The symposium will explore the relationship between landscape and creative writing, paying particular attention to the process of writing and reading. The symposium would appeal to scholars from a range of disciplines, including literary studies, geography, cultural studies, history, gender studies, creative writing and philosophy.

We seek to move beyond disciplinary boundaries and to reassess current theoretical and methodological issues. How does landscape inform identity and reshape textual practices, as literary constructions of landscape are disseminated, received, and loop back into the writing process? How can creative auto-ethnography be used as a tool for exploring the relationship between landscape and identity?

Papers should address one or more of the following themes:

  • the relationship between landscape and the process of writing
  • ways of understanding the writing process
  • landscape, literature and identity
  • the influence of literary constructions of landscape, e.g. regional writing, nature poetry
  • the history of literary writing in and about landscape
  • reader-response and reception theory
  • genre and landscape
  • the experience of ‘real’ writers and writers-as-readers in the landscape

Keynote speakers: Dr. James Kneale (Geography, University College London), Dr. Ella Westland (English, University of Exeter).

Registration fee: £50 (£25 for students).

Please send enquiries or abstracts of 300-500 words by 31 October 2006 to the co-organisers:
Dr. Catherine Brace, Department of Geography, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, Penryn TR10 9EZ; email:
Dr. Adeline Johns-Putra, Department of English, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, Penryn TR10 9EZ; email:

The symposium is the launch event for an AHRC-funded project entitled “Understanding Landscape”. The project will comprise a series of innovative writing workshops, symposia and an international academic conference, bringing together writers and scholars in disciplines across the arts and humanities.

SHARP 2007: Open the book, open the mind
11 - 15 July 2007
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

The fifteenth annual conference of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP) will be held in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota on July 11-15, 2007. It is organized in cooperation with the College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota; University of Minnesota Libraries; Minneapolis Public Library; Minnesota Historical Society, and Minnesota Center for Book Arts - a part of Open Book.

The conference theme, 'Open the Book, Open the Mind,' will highlight how books develop and extend minds and cultures, and also how they are opened to new media and new purposes. However, individual papers or sessions may address any aspect of book history and print or manuscript culture.

The conference organizers invite proposals for individual presentations, and also for complete panels of three presentations on a unifying topic. As is the SHARP custom, each session of 90 minutes will feature three papers of up to 20 minutes, providing time for substantive discussion with members of the audience. Proposals should be submitted via the online conference website by November 30, 2006: please go to and follow the directions provided there.

Each individual proposal should contain a title, an abstract of no more than 300 words, and brief biographical information about the author or co-authors. Session proposals should explain the theme and goals, as well as include the three individual abstracts.

Each year SHARP provides funding support for a few partial travel grants for advanced graduate students and for independent scholars. If you would like to apply for such support please do so online, as you submit your proposal.

In keeping with the theme of the conference, a pre-conference of practical workshops and a plenary session devoted to book arts and artists' books will be held at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts at Open Book, near the University of Minnesota campus, on Tuesday, July 10, 2007. Details about that pre-conference and about the main conference program, registration, and housing arrangements will be made available early in 2007 at the general conference web site, Much information about SHARP 2007 and its location, including hotel-reservation information, is already available there.

Collectors and Collecting: Private Collections and their Role in Libraries

Proposals are invited for papers for a conference to be held at Chawton House Library on 19 and 20 July 2007. The event is jointly organised by Chawton House Library, the University of Southampton English Department, and Goucher College, Baltimore.

There are many examples of collections put together by individuals that are now valuable assets of the libraries to which they have been donated and to the wider cultural heritage. Such collections include the Henry and Alberta Hirshheimer Burke collection of rare editions of Jane Austen’s novels and related materials at Goucher College, and the John Charles Hardy collection of eighteenth-century novels, a substantial part of which now forms a part of Chawton House Library.

This conference will focus on individual collectors of books and manuscripts and their collections. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • the role of such collections within the context of the libraries where they may now be accommodated
  • the way in which libraries manage an individual’s collection
  • the act and process of private collecting
  • the motivation of the individual collector
  • the book or manuscript as artifact in the context of private collections

Plenary speakers are Reg Carr (Director of University Library Services and Bodley's Librarian at the University of Oxford), Robert H. Jackson (Collector, author, and lecturer on literature, rare books, and collecting; founding member of the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies), James Raven (Professor of Modern History, University of Essex) and Bruce Whiteman (Head Librarian, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies, University of California - Los Angeles).

Proposals of no more than 500 words for individual papers of twenty minutes, or for entire panels of three/four papers should be sent to the conference organizers Gillian Dow, Gail McCormick and Helen Scott at the following email addresses: and or by post to

Chawton House Library, Chawton, Hampshire, UK GU34 1SJ. Deadline for proposals: 15th of January 2007

Beyond the Book: Contemporary Cultures of Reading
A conference at the University of Birmingham, UK
1 & 2 September 2007

Keynote Speakers:
Janice Radway (Duke University) & Elizabeth Long (Rice University)
Book groups, Lit Blogs, on-line bookstores, book festivals, reader magazines, ‘One Book, One Community,’ Reader’s Guides, ‘Richard & Judy’s Book Club,’ Book TV, ‘Canada Reads,’ the ‘Nancy Pearl Action Figure,’ ‘Tuesday Night Book Club,’… reading is hot!

This conference will explore the diverse formations, mediations, practices and representations of reading and readers in the contemporary moment. Cultures of reading are dynamic and complex: they involve not only readers reading, but also multiple agencies including publishers, booksellers, broadcast networks, national, regional and municipal governments, and educational institutions. The aim of the conference is to interrogate the relations among these agents and their investment in the meanings of reading. The study of readers and reading encourages, maybe demands, multi- and interdisciplinary analysis. We therefore invite scholars from across the humanities and social sciences to consider the contemporary meanings and experiences of reading in any culture or location. Selected papers will be included in an edited collection on contemporary cultures of reading/book cultures.

Possible topics for consideration:

  • Reading as a form of popular culture
  • Books & reading as cultural events
  • Investigating reading and reader response: methodological problems and strategies
  • The production of readers and/or reading
  • Books/ Reading and/ in/ through the mass media
  • Reading spaces
  • Reading together: shared reading
  • Reading as a medium of/ for social change
  • Reading practices
  • Reading and the state

DEADLINE: 15 January 2007
Please send proposals for 20-minute papers (abstracts of 200-300 words) or complete three-person panel sessions (including abstracts for each paper) by 15 January 2007 to:, using “BTB proposal” as the subject line in your email. Proposals may also be sent to:
Beyond the Book Conference
Department of American & Canadian Studies
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2TT

Beyond the Book is a three-year collaborative interdisciplinary AHRC-funded research project investigating contemporary cultures of reading. The transatlantic BTB team are: DeNel Rehberg Sedo (Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada), Danielle Fuller, Anouk Lang & Anna Burrells (University of Birmingham, UK).

The Question of Reading

According to Jean-Paul Sartre, "a concrete act called reading" is necessary for a text to become a literary object. LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory is soliciting critical, historical, and theoretical explorations of the act of reading. Suggested questions are: How should the act of reading be conceived? How do historical, social, and cultural conditions shape the reception of texts? How have readings of texts changed historically? How do gender, race, sexual orientation, and other categories of social difference factor into reader response and the reception of texts? How does one read across these categories of social difference? Submissions should engage with specific literary texts, range from 5,000-10,000 words, and must be in MLA style. Guest
Editor: Patsy Schweickart, Purdue University.

Send three copies to Regina Barreca, Editor, LIT:
Literature Interpretation Theory, University of Connecticut, Department of English, 215 Glenbrook Rd., Unit 4025, Storrs, CT 06269-4025, USA.

PEER English

I am pleased to announce the launch of Peer English (ISSN 1746-5621), a new refereed annual literary journal published by the Department of English at the University of Leicester.

The first issue includes scholarly essays on theories of realism, war writing, Renaissance university drama, V.S. Naipaul and the role of the unconscious in the writing process. There are also reviews and review essays of recent academic books by Peter Haidu, Angelique Richardson, Lawrence Frank, Carlos Hiraldo and others.

More information, including subscription details, is available on the journal’s website at:
Our aim is to provide a forum for exciting and high-quality work by early career researchers. We especially welcome submissions, therefore, from lecturers, assistant or associate professors, senior graduate students, or post-doctoral researchers or teachers.

While we would be very interested in seeing essays on Romantic topics, our approach is open and inclusive. We encourage work that considers any literary period, and deploys the whole range of critical strategies used in the discipline today, from traditional close readings, to historically-grounded scholarship and cutting-edge theoretical or interdisciplinary analyses.

For publication in the second issue in late 2007 we now invite:
scholarly essays (2,000–5,000 words), reviews or review essays of recent publications, short articles on research or pedagogical-related themes, thought and opinion pieces. All typescript should be double-spaced, MLA referenced, sent on disk saved as a Word document and accompanied by two hard copies of the text.

The submissions deadline for Issue 2 is 5th January 2007

Submissions may also be considered during January, but only after prior arrangement with the editor. Please contact the editor with an abstract or proposal if you wish to submit but have concerns about being unable to make the deadline.

Contributions should be sent to:

Chris Louttit
Editor, Peer English
Department of English
University of Leicester
University Road
Leicester, LE1 7RH Email:

A full style sheet of submission guidelines is available by email and should be requested before submitting final copy.

For more Book History events, see the HoBo website:

from: William Hone, ‘The Yearbook’, 1832
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