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Reading Communities Conference

Connecting the Past and the Present

15 September 2016

Institute of English Studies, Senate House, Malet Street,
University of London, WC1E 7HU

For directions and transport information, see the University of London's information pages here.

Download a PDF version of the programme.

Pre-registration has now closed. However, if you would still like to attend the conference and have not yet registered, please email the "Reading Communities" team at

9.30–10.30      Registration (tea and coffee provided) Jessel Room

10.30–11.00    Introduction and Welcome Court Room

11.00–12.30    Parallel Sessions Rooms 243 and 246

Panel 1: Reconstructing Reading Communities

Chair: David Johnson (The Open University) Room 243

W. R. Owens (University of Bedfordshire) : “Reading Aloud, Past and Present”

Rob Koehler (New York University) : “Exploring Reading Communities at the New York Society Library, 1789–1805”

Josephine von Zitzewitz (University of Cambridge) : “Samizdat as Social Media: Journals, Their Makers and Their Readers”

Panel 2: Acquiring Texts, Acquiring Literacy

Chair: Jonathan Gibson (The Open University) Room 246

Sophie Defrance (Cambridge University Library) : “Girls’ Reading in Secondary Schools at the End of the Nineteenth Century”

Andrew Murphy (University of St Andrews) : “Reading the Nation: Literacy and Irish Identity”

Simon Frost (Bournemouth University) : “In the Bookshop: Political Readings within the Frame of Economics”

12.30–1.30 Lunch Jessel Room

1.30–3.00 Parallel Sessions Rooms 243 and 246

Panel 3: Reading and Total War

Chair: Edmund King (The Open University) Room 243

Lynda Mugglestone (Pembroke College, University of Oxford) : “Reading as History: Andrew Clark and the Words in War-Time Project”

Jessica Hammett (University of Sussex) : “Community Reading and Community Writing in Civil Defence Magazines during the London Blitz”

Katherine Cooper (Newcastle University) : “The Personal is Political: The Politics of Reading in Blitz London”

Panel 4: Libraries, Book Clubs, and the Construction of Reading Communities

Chair: Rob Koehler (New York University) Room 246

James Connolly and Frank Felsenstein (Ball State University) : "Approaches to Reading Experiences: What Middletown Read and the Reading Experience Database"

Calista Williams (The Open University/National Library of Wales) : "Reading the Readers’ Register: The Reading Habits of the First Users of the National Library of Wales, 1909–1912"

Nicola Wilson (University of Reading) : "Transatlantic Reading Communities: The American Book of the Month Club and the Book Society Ltd."

3.00–3.30 Tea and coffee Jessel Room

3.30–5.00 Parallel Sessions Rooms 243 and 246

Panel 5: Digital Reading Communities and the Social Performance of Reading

Chair: Francesca Benatti (The Open University) :Room 243

Bronwen Thomas (Bournemouth University) : “All Together Now: Social Reading in the Digital Age”

Nicola Presley (Bath Spa University) : “Reading Communities and Adaptations on Social Media Sites”

Petra Ragnerstam and Sara Bjärstorp (University of Malmö) : “Live Reading Communities: LARPs and the Performance of Literature”

Panel 6: Reading Communities: Past and Present 

Chair: Andrew Murphy (University of St Andrews) Room 246

Brooke Palmieri (University College London) : “The Fine Line between Consensus and Censorship: Quakers and Their Reading”

Amy Tooth Murphy (University of Roehampton) and Graham Smith (Royal Holloway, University of London) : “The World That Books Built: Reading, Memory, and the Creation of History”

Sarah Pyke (University of Roehampton) : “‘Ardent Reading’ and ‘Hermeneutic Voyaging’ in the Queer Oral History Archive”

5.30–6.30 Keynote Lecture Court Room

Simon Eliot (Institute of English Studies, University of London) : “Reading and the Ministry of Information and Reading the Ministry of Information”

6.30–7.30 Evening Wine Reception Jessel Room

Held in partnership with the Institute of English Studies, University of London

Reading Communities: Connecting the Past and the Present, an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project

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