Events | Memories of Fiction: An Oral History

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Dr Shafquat Towheed, Director of The Open University’s UK Reading Experience Database, will present a seminar on ‘Synchronous vs. remembered reading: evidence from the UK Reading Experience Database, 1450-1945 (UK RED)’ on 18 February 2015, 1-2pm, at the University of Roehampton. The seminar is part of the AHRC-funded Memories of Fiction project, which is researching individual and collective memories of reading fiction to study how reading shapes our lives.

Seminar outline: With over 31,000 records, the UK Reading Experience Database, 1450-1945 (UK RED) is the world’s largest single dedicated repository of the experiences of readers in the past. It catalogues the experiences of British readers at home and abroad (and visitors to Britain) over five centuries. Within the database there is considerable recoverable information about when a reading experience and also when it was recorded. While much evidence of reading is recorded at the time or soon after, significant sources rich in evidence of reading (such as memoirs, edited travel journals and autobiographies) are by their very nature, retrospective accounts of remembered reading.  This talk is in two parts: the first half explains how members of the Reading Experience Database team gather data, how we structure and record a ‘reading experience’, and how it is displayed. Specifically, I will be focussing on the ‘when’ of reading: when did the reading take place and how can we capture, record and display this? The second half of my talk looks at some of the methodological and interpretative issues around remembered reading vs. reading that’s recorded at the time or immediately after. We have the full spread of reading evidences in UK RED – from synchronous records of reading at the time they were taking place, to reminiscences of childhood reading many years later, but we have never scrutinized or categorised this chronological variances in records – or whether indeed, they should be thought of as two different types of evidence/reading experience. Pulling out some examples from the project, I will ask whether reading at the time and remembered reading are distinct evidential categories, requiring their own tools for investigation and analysis.

The seminar is free and open to all. Please get in touch with Shelley Trower if you have any queries (shelley.trower@roehampton.ac.uk).

via Events | Memories of Fiction: An Oral History.

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