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BKS2000H

In 2016-17: The Nineteenth-Century Information Age: Readers, Markets, and Media

Angela Esterhammer (Department of English): Northrop Frye Centre, Victoria College (VC102)
, Winter Term, 2017; Wednesday, 3:00-6:00

This course looks at current work in print culture and media history using nineteenth-century Britain and Europe as a source of case studies. Focusing on primary texts together with recent research, we will discuss the evolution of the literary marketplace from 1800 to 1840, reading habits, visual media and new technologies, and the popularity of periodicals and magazines. We will emphasize the reciprocal influence of publishing and marketing practices on genre, content, interpretation, and reception. Developments to be studied include the trend toward shorter prose forms and serial fiction; experiments with hybrid genres; notions of authorship, authority, and authenticity; and complex relationships among editors, authors, and readers that involve pseudonymity and hoaxing.

Seminars will allow participants to bring their own research interests into relation with course material in presentations leading to term papers. These projects may expand on some aspect of nineteenth-century print culture or explore how new research tools and methodologies including digital humanities can be used to study this period. Alternatively, participants may apply a theme or theory studied in the course to their own period/area of focus (e.g., editor-author-reader relationships, the evolution of genre in tandem with new media and technology).

Prerequisite or corequisite for students in the program: BKS1001HF. May be available without prerequisite to students outside the program by Permission of Instructor.

In 2017-18: Reading and Nationalisms

Heather Murray (Department of English): Room TBA, Winter Term, 2018; Wednesday, 9:00-11:00

This course will consider the relationship between “reading” (broadly defined) and emergent nationalisms in the seventy-year period from 1870 until the beginning of the Second World War. In other words, we will examine the belief that there is (or could be, or should be) a “national” subject, and that reading has an important role to play in the shaping of this national subject or citizen. Some core questions lie at the centre of this topic: what practices (reading instruction, literacy promotion) have governments undertaken to promote reading? Is the national reader a reader of nationally-produced materials, or should he (or, although variantly, she) read non-national/international materials in a specific way? How have progressive nationalists attempted to direct reading in the services of their own (demotic, democratic, or socialist) political agendas?

The focus of this course is less on what was read in the period 1870-1940 than on debates about who should read, and how. While many analyses of the “rise of the reading public” focus on the early-to-mid nineteenth century, these topics appear somewhat differently when emergent nations and a slightly later time period, are examined. (The decade of the 1870s marks the immediate aftermath of Canadian Confederation, the United States centenary, the consolidation of imperial rule in India, and the beginnings of both state-sponsored education and the linking of colonies via telegraphy in Australia.) While the course itself will focus on these four colonial/postcolonial cases, class participants are invited to consider other countries and colonies (in Europe, for example, or the Caribbean) and to explore this topic in interdisciplinary ways. Students specializing in earlier historical periods are welcome to consider these questions with reference to pre- or proto-national situations, or other forms of state organization.

Prerequisite or corequisite for students in the program: BKS1001HF. May be available without prerequisite to students outside the program by Permission of Instructor.

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