The History of Reading: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The History of Reading

1st Edition

Edited by Shafquat Towheed, Rosalind Crone, Katie Halsey


480 pages

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Paperback: 9780415484213
pub: 2010-07-30
Hardback: 9780415484206
pub: 2010-07-30

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The History of Reading offers an engaging, accessible overview from the rise of literacy through to the current trend of ‘book clubs’.

Divided into seven sections, each with a useful introduction, this Reader:

  • summarises the main debates and perspectives shaping the field
  • introduces key theorists such as Iser, Fish and Bakhtin
  • surveys influential works and outlines important studies on mass reading
  • focuses on specific communities such as Welsh miners, African American library users and Australian convicts
  • looks at individual readers from a variety of countries, classes and historical periods
  • considers current research in the history of reading.

Providing both a clear introduction to the history of the field and a taster of the breadth, diversity and vitality of current debates, this Reader is an essential resource for undergraduates, graduates, and researchers.


'an extremely intelligent guide to the history of reading…The editors accurately map the new terrain of reading history, setting a variety of global case studies within the theoretical approaches so far developed. Their lively prose and judicious selections will attract students and scholars alike to the field.'- Shef Rogers, Editor of 'Script and Print'

'This collection will appeal to students and scholars of history, literature, and cultural studies and is essential for specialists in the history of reading.' - Bill Bell, Director of the Centre for the History of the Book, The University of Edinburgh

'…perfectly designed for university teachers and their students.' - Library & Information History

Table of Contents

Section 1: Defining the Field: What is the History of Reading? 1. From Fiction and the Reading Public - Q. D. Leavis 2. ‘First Steps Towards a History of Reading’ - Robert Darnton 3. Preface to The Order of Books - Roger Chartier 4. ‘Was there a Reading Revolution at the End of the Eighteenth Century?’ - Reinhard Wittmann 5. 'Reading in Late Antiquity’ - John Moorehead Section 2: Theorising the Reader 6. ‘Literary History as a Challenge to Literary Theory’ - Hans Robert Jauss 7. ‘The Reading Process: A Phenomenological Approach’ - Wolfgang Iser 8. ‘On the Politics of Literature’ - Judith Fetterley 9. ‘What Makes an Interpretation Acceptable?’ - Stanley Fish 10. ‘Discourse in Poetry and Discourse in the Novel’ - Mikhail Bakhtin 11. 'Silent Reading: its impact on Late Medieval Script and Society’ - Paul Saenger 12. ‘Reading as Poaching’ - Michel de Certeau Section 3: Researching and Using Literacy 13. ‘Literacy, trade and religion in the commercial centres of Europe’ - Margaret Spufford 14. ‘Dimensions of illiteracy in England, 1740-1850’ - Roger S. Schofield 15. ‘Reading and Writing’ - David Vincent 16. ‘Studying the History of Literacy’ - Carl F. Kaestle 17. ‘Summary of present tendencies in mass culture’- Richard Hoggart Section 4: Reading the Masses 18. From Reading Revolutions: the Politics of Reading in Early Modern England - Kevin Sharpe 19. ‘Constructing New Reading Publics in Late Ming China’ - Anne E. McLaren 20. ‘At the Boundaries of the Reading Nation’ - William St. Clair 21. ‘Contesting Print Audiences’ - Anindita Ghosh 22. ‘The Literature of the Lubok’ - Jeffrey Brooks Section 5: Reading Communities 23. ‘Reading and Reciting’ - Martyn Lyons with Lucy Taksa 24. ‘Reading in the Middle Ages’ - Armando Petrucci 25. ‘The Welsh Miners’ Libraries’ - Jonathan Rose 26. '"A benefit and a blessing": The Sage Library’ - Christine Pawley 27. ‘"An Association of Kindred Spirits": Black Readers and their Reading Rooms’ - Elizabeth McHenry Section 6: Individual Readers 28. ‘"Studied for Action": How Gabriel Harvey read his Livy’- Anthony Grafton and Lisa Jardine 29. ‘The Cultural Universe of a Dutch Child’ - Arianne Baggerman 30. ‘"R R, A Remarkable Thing of Action": John Dawson as a Reader and Annotator’ - Stephen Colclough 31. ‘Self-Development’ - James A. Secord Section 7: New Directions and Methods in the History of Reading 32. ‘New Methods in the History of Reading: "Answers to Correspondents" - Teresa Gerrard 33. ‘No longer left behind:, reader-response, and the changing fortunes of the Christian novel in America’ - Paul C. Gutjahr 34. ‘Mata’s Hermeneutic: Internationally Made Ways of Reading Bunyan’ -Isabel Hofmeyr 35. ‘Listening to the Readers of "Canada Reads"’ - Danielle Fuller 36. 'The Reading Experience Database 1450–1945 (RED)' - Rosalind Crone, Katie Halsey, Mary Hammond and Shafquat Towheed

About the Editors

Shafquat Towheed is Lecturer in English at The Open University, where he is also Project Supervisor for The Reading Experience Database, 1450-1945 (RED). He is the editor of The Correspondence of Edith Wharton and Macmillan, 1901-1930 (2007), of New Readings in the Literature of British India, c.1780-1947 (2007).

Rosalind Crone is Lecturer in History at the Open University, where she is Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded project, The Reading Experience Database, 1450-1945 (RED). She has published widely on popular culture, crime and literacy in the nineteenth-century, and is co-editor of New Perspectives in British Cultural History (2007).

Katie Halsey is lecturer at the University of Stirling. She has published several articles on nineteenth-century literary culture, is currently co-editing a collection of essays on the subject of conversation in the long eighteenth century, and writing a monograph about Jane Austen’s readers.

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