Thursday, August 30, 2007




Newcastle University, 11-12 April 2008

Keynote Speakers:

Jason Scott-Warren (Cambridge), Cathy Shrank (Sheffield), Daniel Wakelin (Cambridge)

The history of reading has experienced an explosive growth in recent years. Scholars of early modern England have been at the forefront of research in this area, and studies of the reading practices of a number of notable figures, including Gabriel Harvey, John Dee, Ben Jonson, and Sir William Drake, have appeared over the last fifteen years. Historians have gleaned from notebooks and marginalia a model of reading as utilitarian; this values the text primarily as a resource to be mined for information or turns of phrase and applied to the life or writings of the reader or their patron. Such work has offered many important insights, but it has perhaps also narrowed our understanding of the practice of reading and its social and political import. It does not give us a model that is flexible enough to explain the relationship between reading and the development of literary‚ form, nor does it recognise the diverse practical, political and social interests which reading may have served.

We invite proposals for conference papers which aim to extend or complicate our understanding of early modern readers and reading practice. This might be understood to include the conversations - or indeed quarrels - which follow particular texts; the act of reading itself as dialogic; readings that Œgo against the grain‚; the sense of literary writings as acts of reading; reading as information gathering and the organization of knowledge; and textual exchange as a form of association, or negotiation, between individuals, communities, and cultures.

Specific subjects which contributors might address include (but are not limited to):

Paratexts and marginalia
Rhetoric and imitation
Scientific reading
Information management
Book and manuscript circulation
Book ownership
Reading communities
Education and reading
Dialogue and civil conversation
Oppositional reading
Reading and politics
Reformation and religious controversy

Please send proposals (100 words) by 7 December 2007 to Fred Schurink (


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