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The Practice and Representation of Reading in England


  • 16 b/w illus. 3 tables
  • Page extent: 332 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.507 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521023238)

Developments in cultural history and literary criticism have suggested alternative ways of addressing the interpretation of reading. How did people read in the past? Where and why did they read? How were the manner and purpose of reading envisaged and recorded by contemporaries - and why? Drawing on fields as diverse as medieval pedagogy, textual bibliography, the history of science, and social and literary history, this collection of fourteen essays highlights both the singularity of personal reading experiences and the cultural conventions involved in reading and its perception. An introductory essay offers an important critical assessment of the various contributions to the development of the subject in recent times. This book constitutes a major addition to our understanding of the history of readers and reading.

• Major addition to our understanding of the history of readers and reading • A full-length overview of a topic central to literary and cultural studies • Fourteen essays by distinguished scholars covering wide range of topics


List of illustrations; List of tables; List of contributors; Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction: the practice and representation of reading in England James Raven, Helen Small and Naomi Tadmor; 2. 'Let him read the Satires of Horace': reading, literacy and grammar in the twelfth century Suzanne Reynolds; 3. Into his secret chamber: reading and privacy in late medieval England Andrew Taylor; 4. The place of reading in the English Renaissance: John Dee revisited William H. Sherman; 5. Reading and the technology of textual affect: Erasmus's familiar letters and Shakespeare's King Lear Lisa Jardine; 6. The editor as reader: constructing Renaissance texts John Kerrigan; 7. Popular verses and their readership in the early seventeenth century Adam Fox; 8. The physiology of reading in Restoration England Adrian Johns; 9. 'In the even my wife read to me': women, reading and household life in the eighteenth century Naomi Tadmor; 10. From promotion to proscription: arrangements for reading in eighteenth-century libraries James Raven; 11. Provincial servants' reading in the late eighteenth century Jan Fergus; 12. Reconstructing the reader: prescriptions, texts and strategies in Anna Larpent's reading John Brewer; 13. Women, men and the reading of Vanity Fair Kate Flint; 14. A pulse of 124: Charles Dickens and a pathology of the mid-Victorian reading public Helen Small; Bibliography; Index.


'The most striking feature of The Practice and Representation of Reading in England is the diversity of academic traditions and theoretical frameworks which are brought to bear on the subject. They range from post-modern textual criticism to the history of science, informed by a diversity of approaches from medieval palaegraphy to feminism. Individually, the papers are of great interest and distinction.' SHARP News


James Raven, Helen Small, Naomi Tadmor, Suzanne Reynolds, Andrew Taylor, William H. Sherman, Lisa Jardine, John Kerrigan, Adam Fox, Adrian Johns, Jan Fergus, John Brewer, Kate Flint

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