Making Books, Shaping Readers developed organically following papers delivered by Siobhán Collins, Carrie Griffin and Mary O'Connell at a Departmental conference. Notwithstanding their scholarly focus on different periods of literature: medieval, early modern and Romantic respectively, shared discussion revealed common intellectual concerns. These concerns are related to how texts are physically produced and transmitted to readers, and how forms of textual production and its science shape readers. Griffin originated the idea of developing and structuring what was clearly an emerging, and bridging, research field. The potential and validity of this project was recognized, and a commitment to develop it was agreed on, by each of the above named scholars. The project was formally launched at the Departmental Graduate conference,Bookends, on April 3rd 2006.

Project Directors: Graham Allen,Siobhán Collins, Carrie Griffin, Mary O' Connell.

Making Books, Shaping Readers is a research unit focusing on the materiality of the text, and how the physical appearance of the text shapes and informs both authors and readers. Our concerns include the transmission (and alteration) of texts; the permanence and/or transience of the book; organisational principles such as library catalogues, canon, anthologies, miscellanies and variorum; patronisation and the marketplace; the influence of the publisher; editorial practices; marginalia; paratexts; context; notions of ontology/books as body/locus/memory; censorship; authorial and reader rhetorical devices; authorship/authority, or lack of; codicology and book production; the relationship between image and text and the book as artefact.

Aims

  • To establish an annual international conference to promote scholarly research in this area;

  • To offer undergraduate modules that promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the materiality of the book, its historical evolution, and its cultural impact;

  • To publish an annotated bibliography, a textbook for students, and a book of scholarly essays in this emerging field;

  • To establish a network of excellence in this area which will attract postgraduate scholarship and promote teaching expertise and further research.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
-- The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

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