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Inaugural lecture Ms Prof S. Corbellini: Geographies of Reading

When:Tu 06-06-2017 at 16:15
Where:Aula Academy Building, Broerstraat 5, Groningen
Sabrina Corbellini
Sabrina Corbellini

A few months ago, the American National Book Foundation awarded the Innovations in Reading Prize to Barbershop Books (Harlem, NY), a community-based reading program that creates child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops. Over the past 2 years, “the program has transformed 49 barbershops into community spaces that support positive early reading experiences for Afro-American boys in 18 cities across 11 states”. Other four organisations have received honourable mention for the 2017 Innovations in Reading Prize: Books@Work, the Great Reading Games, Poetry in Motion, and Reach Out and Read. All the awarded programs share one main feature: the effort to integrate books and reading into everyday experience – waiting at barbershops, entering working spaces, travelling by public transport and seeing a paediatrician – in order to stimulate young and adult readers to perform reading activities.

The societal impact of reading cannot be overestimated, as reading has always been, in premodern and modern times, essential for the creation and development of sustainable, strong and healthy communities and societies (see for example www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/taal-rekenen-digitale-vaardigheden/aanpak-laaggeletterdheid ). Studied in a historical perspective, research on reading activities, strategies and techniques allows researchers to investigate how knowledge was produced and disseminated, to reconstruct its availability and to test the impact of the circulation of knowledge on societal transformations.

The acknowledgement of the relevance of a spatial approach to reading (i.e. where are reading activities performed? And how do spaces and places of performance affect reading activities?) forms the connecting thread in the inaugural lecture that will reconstruct “geographies of reading” through the study of late medieval and early modern sources. Far from being scarcely literate and virtually bookless, premodern societies will be approached as “laboratories” for testing not only who were the readers, how and what they were reading but also to “map” their reading strategies and activities.

More information

  • Inaugural lecture: Ms Prof S. Corbellini
  • Title: Geographies of Reading
  • Chair: History of Reading in Premodern Europe
  • Faculty: Arts
  • Register at the latest one week in advance by returning the replycard or by filling in this form
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