Engl 209. October 18 2006

Students' questions on Wittmann and the reading revolution

Transformation in reading

Unclear what was the cause of the reading revolution
If the bible is read intensively, what genres of literature are being read extensively?
Is it possible that another reading revolution is possible? If so, what part of reading could evolve?
How did the revolution affect publishers and others involved in the production of literature?
How did the reading revolution affect culture?

The world of the reader

Reading seen as starting with the upper class and trickling down: Was this really the case?
If people are being read to can they be counted as readers? What constitutes a reader?
Why was Sweden a unique case?
What were the differences between an urban and a rural readership?
Reading developed during the 18th C, but did the definition of reading change?
Did it appear that the bourgeosie read more merely because they were better documented?
Where is the "modern number" of readers cited from? (p. 289)
What was the "change of attitude" in what popularized reading and turned it into a recreation?
What was the "democratization" of reading that he says occurred by 1900?
How did the 1.5% of readers "ferment" and start the momentous chain reaction?

Old / new forms of reading

What evidence is there for benign forms of reading prior to the revolution?
What were the new forms of reading?
How differentiated were the genres back then?
Who wrote in the different genres and for whom?
Did new genres emerge during the new forms of reading -- e.g., romance, gothic; but what of comedies, action, adventure novels?

The reading mania

How is industrialization linked to a deeper emotional connection to what was read?
What caused the rise of the novel?
What made the novels so powerful? How to determine the influence of a novel and its limits?
What are the social implications of the "mania"? (can it be compared with response to TV?)
How do we know what reasons made certain texts be chosen for reading?
How does one quantify intensive reading?
Is there a problem if readers interpret the novel like the bible?
Is he looking at hysteria or emancipation?
Are we liable to associate female intellectual excitement with sexist hysteria?

Reading tastes

Are the factors of change attributed to the reader or the economy? Is the influence on the reader set too high?
Importance of the decline of Latin: not emphasized enough?
Why did reading lead to social passiveness in England while in Germany it led to increased political consciousness?

Lending libraries and reading societies

If lending libraries were compared to "brothels" were objections to the reading revolution made on moral grounds, or were the elite afraid of losing status?
Were people reading because it was fashionable or because it was intrinsically valuable?
Reading is said to evolve from a group to an individual activity: is there a different reading process in group reading compared with individual?
Who was meeting at reading societies? Were women allowed? or were men and women meeting separately?
What "foreign reading" was occurring, what countries provided it? Were revolutions occurring there?

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Document prepared October 18th 2006