Wittmann: Questions arising.  March 1st 2011

1. Introduction: transformation in reading

In what way was reading transformed at the beginning of the 18th century in Germany?
What were some of the social and economic factors that lead to this transformation?
Can popular novels be considered intensive reading material as well?
Was this reading revolution a "real" revolution or is there an inherent historical bias that exaggerates the facts because we only
have information from the literate elite?
How did Protestantism change how/what people read? How did the rise of secularism change this?
How did the availability of books (printing presses/libraries/etc.) effect reading? How did these institutions effect each other?

#2.  The world of the reader

If there was a reading revolution in Germany during the late 18th century why was it that only 1.5% of the population could read?
What creates the demand for reading?
Where were the historical/external factors that influenced people to begin reading?
Did writers also experience a revolution?
What influenced the lower classes to begin reading?
Were there conservative factions that opposed the reading revolution apart from the church?
How did people learn to read?
Were they educated through formal institutions?
What was the main body, or genre of literature that people read during the reading revolution in Germany during the late 18th century?

#3.  Old and New Forms of Reading in the 18th Century

How does the concept of unruly reading apply to both intensive and  extensive reading?
Does concept of unruly reading just apply to reading styles? (What about genres?)
Can the classification of usefulness of text differ based on social position, gender, religion or employment?
Audiences influenced the market, how much of an influence difference  is there based on gender age or religion?
How did religion react to the change in the form of reading?

#4.  The reading mania

How would you know how they responded to texts?
-- accuracy, subjective; read it to “say you’ve read it”
How much of reading mania was true?
-- Intensive cases (Werther, suicide, previous thoughts)
What of women’s/men’s reactions to the same book?  Did they read the same books?
What did society think of women readings things?
What about the different types of “intensiveness” – Bible vs. Werther
Did people read Werther a lot of times?

#5. Reading tastes

What was the reason for the increase in book prices? Was this change reader-driven or industry-driven?
What role did a bookseller have in everyday life? Were booksellers' materials defined by their class or role in society?
Wittman states that there was a shift in authors from merely creation to creation and marketing. What effects did this have on the texts that authors produced?
As always, the question remains of who determined the national canon and the "right" reading taste. As readers became more escapist, did that actually affect their political or social actions? And if so, was a person's reading taste evaluated by the actions they took?
Wittman mentions that clandestine reading in Germany has not been studied. What role did it play in German culture, and did its importance change over the course of the "revolution"?
How did the culture of reading shift from viewing texts as sacred to everyone possessing the right to create a text? Today's society values free speech in writing, and everyone has access to creating their own text. What does this say about reading in today's culture as compared to historically?

#6. Lending libraries and reading societies

-- to be completed --

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Document created March 3rd, 2011