Monday, September 19, 2005

CFP: Culture of Reading, past and present

CFP: Culture of Reading, past and present

APPROVED PANEL IN THE LITERATURE & SOCIETY SECTION and possible collection of essays for publication

PCA/ACA ANNUAL MEETING, April 12th-15th, 2006
DEADLINE: OCT 21, 2005.

In the epilogue to her 2002 book “Forgotten Readers,” Elizabeth McHenry draws connections between the African American literary societies of the Nineteenth Century and Oprah’s Book Club. She writes, “The [latter] book club’s success is indicative of the extent to which texts, even if read in solitude, elicit in their readers responses that demand a forum for sharing.” The statement is at once obvious and unconvincing. In today’s book marketplace, who demands what, and vice versa?

This panel hopes to combine very different fields of historical literary culture and popular culture studies. Can their common ground uncover an evolution/commonality with political, psychological, and/or economic implications? We are interested in papers that address some specific historical reading groups and literary societies, but also hope to have contributions that give some cultural analysis of current trends in reading groups, or "book clubs." Possibly of interest: reading communities as arbiters of taste, increasing professionalization* and
commericialization of reading, community-sponsored reading.

*("professionalization" meaning the movement for groups to seek a higher level of structure and a depth of consideration beyond the means of an adhoc collection of social acquaintances.)

Send 300-500 word abstracts by 10/21/05. All submissions will also be considered for possible volume of collected essays on same.

Susan Hays Bussey
Department of English
Wake Forest University