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!