When and where can we say that the history of reading begins? And how does that history unfold in relation to changing textual delivery systems (the pictograph, the book, your phone) but also in relation to social structures, political ideologies, and cultural practices that determine not only who gets taught what we might call ‘literacy’ (and who gets excluded) but that also shape the practices and even the meaning of the act of reading? Beginning from a reflective examination of our own experiences of reading, the course will use a range of specific historical case studies to investigate the manifold forces that ‘make’ readers — for example, the emergence of the child reader and the children’s book market. It will also consider the ‘power of the reader’ to contribute input into what reading is and what it means for them, a power we see manifested in readers’ marginalia or in the phenomenon of fanfiction where readers themselves become makers.
Alberto Manguel, A History of Reading (Vintage Canada, 1998) ISBN-10: 0676970222
Further readings will be available through eClass.