CFP: [Victorian] Reading and the Age of Gladstone; 30 Aug 2008; 23-25 Jan 2009

full name / name of organization: 

Reading and the Age of Gladstone

23-25 January 2009

Several recent and ongoing projects have sought to provide new histories
of the book and examine the role and position of readers within that
history. This conference not only aims to explore the issues that surround
reading in the period c1830-1901, it also seeks to explore the ways in
which the Victorian period is read today. Increased literacy,
unprecedented developments in publishing, the widespread availability of
texts through periodicals and a new library culture: all mark out the
nineteenth century as one of the most active in terms of the ‘reading
experience’. But how did readers of the time set about their task, and how
should the modern critic or teacher set about theirs? What engagement did
readers in the period have with the whole machinery of producing and
disseminating books, with publishing houses, with libraries, with
periodicals, and how do such material considerations affect our reading of
the Victorians today? What did the act of reading mean for them â€" and what
does it mean for us?

Possible themes might include, but are not limited to:

• the Victorians and book collections, libraries, literary
• the Victorian periodical
• nineteenth century bibliomania
• mass literacy
• readers at the margins, or annotators of books
• readers as editors â€" collation of scrapbooks/manuscript volumes
• public readings
• the publishing of Victorian literature and criticism today
• circulating libraries and the public libraries
• writers writing about reading
• book clubs/associations/exchanges between readers
• ‘proper’ reading/censorship of texts
• reading the Victorians in the university environment, and outside
• how to record acts of reading â€" the use and suitability of new
        technologies in research on the history of reading/readers

Proposals (no more than 300 words) for papers of 20 minutes duration
should be sent to the organisers, Dr Matthew Bradley and Dr Juliet John,
via email to and by
August 31st 2008. Confirmed speakers for the conference include David
Bebbington, Philip Davis, Simon Eliot, and Kate Flint.

The conference will take place at St Deiniol’s Library, which was founded
by the Victorian statesman and polymath William Ewart Gladstone (1809-
1898). The Library is the National Memorial to Gladstone and is both the
only residential library and purpose-built prime ministerial library in
the United Kingdom. Part of the programme will consist of the official
launch of the Gladstone’s Reading Database. The research for this project,
funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (2006-09), has been
conducted at St Deiniol’s, and database represents a virtual recreation
of Gladstone’s library, and a unique and comprehensive record of his
reading of each item. For further details about the database, please

A Gladstone Centre for Victorian Studies in Wales and the North West
Conference in partnership with the University of Liverpool’s Centre for
Victorian Studies.

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Received on Thu Feb 21 2008 - 02:56:52 EST