Monthly Archives: January 2018

Call for papers: seeking articles on Interviews and Reading

A key publication arising from the Memories of Fiction project is to be a Themed Section of the journal Participations: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies. We are seeking proposals for articles to contribute to this collection.

Call for Papers: Interviews and Reading  (for a longer version click here.)

This themed section of approximately ten articles will bring together recent and current work which uses interviews to investigate reading (including books, newspapers, and comics, in social and individual contexts). It will bring together a series of investigations which foreground readers’ narratives.

Since the turn to ‘the reader’ in literary theory and criticism in the 1970s, scholars have increasingly used interviews to engage with the narrated experiences and memories of ‘actual’ readers. Janice Radway’s Reading the Romance (1984) was among the first studies to use interviews to undertake an ethnographic investigation into romance reading in a Midwestern US town. Around fifteen years later Jonathan Rose reused oral history interviews from the ‘Edwardians’ project (carried out in the UK in the 1970s), along with life writing, in his research into autodidactic reading for The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (2001). In more recent projects, including ‘Scottish Readers Remember’ (2006-9), ‘Reading Sheffield’ (2010 ongoing), and ‘Memories of Fiction’ (2014 ongoing), collecting oral histories has grown in importance as a way of researching readers and reading.

In their use of interviews and engagement with ‘everyday’ readers, researchers of reading have participated in the wider use of interviews across reception studies, in many cases as part of an ethnographic approach to audiences, including viewers, listeners, and cinemagoers. Yet the significance of interviews in the study of reading – and indeed more widely in reception and audience studies – is rarely discussed, a gap which this themed section of Participations will address.

This themed section will discuss what can be gleaned from different approaches to collecting and analyzing readers’ talk about reading. We want articles to offer case studies that illustrate the advantages and limits of particular interview-centred approaches in collection and analysis, and which could help to inform how interviews are used broadly across reception and audience studies. Suggested topics include:

  • Reuse of interviews intended for other purposes
  • Interviews as spoken dialogue and collaboration
  • Self-reflexivity in interviewing
  • Diverse models of interviewing – e.g. interviews by email; group interviews
  • Use of interviews alongside written documents / mixed methods
  • Memory
  • Intersubjectivity
  • Materialities of text
  • Everyday reading

Co-edited by Shelley Trower (University of Roehampton), Amy Tooth Murphy (Royal Holloway), Graham Smith (Newcastle University)

Please submit proposals of between 300-500 words, along with a one page CV (including relevant publications) by Friday March 23rd, to the editors via

The final publication date will be November 2019


Theatre library

I’m delighted to announce our next event to take place this coming May: We’re going to take over the Omnibus Theatre building in Clapham, with a ‘library’ of varied performance spaces, all relating to how vitally libraries and reading shape our lives. The material will come from the oral histories created with reading group members about what they remembered and valued about reading. One of the key emerging themes was the importance of libraries as unique cultural and social spaces, offering ‘comfort, discovery, self-definition and salvation’. So to get the messages out there, we’re going to use the text and audio material as the basis for all the pieces, all in different forms, to give people a variety of theatre experiences (storytelling, monologues, video pieces, etc), just like books with different genres.

Outside-of-building-New-Cropped1It’s being produced by an experienced and inspiring producer and director, Laura Bridges, and will be part of the theatre’s storytelling festival. As an old library, the Omnibus Theatre is the perfect space for it! More information will become available as the project develops, but for now if you’re interested please take a note in your diaries: 9-12 May 2018.