Spring term programme for the Centre for Book Cultures and Publishing announced

All welcome to all events – please come along!
Contact: @cbcp_UniRdg
or n.l.wilson@reading.ac.uk

Tuesday 11th February, 5-6pm (wk 5) SEMINAR

Dr Vaibhav Singh (Typography)

The weight of words: typographic infrastructures and print communication in South Asia

Edith Morley 150


Wednesday 4th March (wk 8) SEMINAR

In collaboration with the Department of Classics

Dr Christopher Stray (Swansea University)

The Glory and the Grandeur: John Clarke Stobart and the defence of high culture in a democratic age

Time and venue TBC


Tuesday 17th March, 5-6pm (wk 10) SEMINAR

Dr Mary Frank (East German Studies Archive)

Speaking to the world: East Germany’s English-language publications

Edith Morley 150


Thursday 26th March 5-6pm (wk 11) SEMINAR Organised jointly with the Department of Languages and Cultures’ Research Seminar

Dr Marta Simó Comas (Department of Languages and Cultures)

Democratizing culture and building a new consciousness: the transformative female publishers of post-Franco Spain

Edith Morley G57

New programme for the Centre for Book Cultures and Publishing announced

All welcome to all events – please come along!
Contact: @cbcp_UniRdg
or n.l.wilson@reading.ac.uk

Tuesday 15th October, 5-6pm (wk 3) SOCIAL

Welcome to Postgrads, PhDs and Postdocs Miller building, G02

Tuesday 29th October, 5-6pm (wk 5) SEMINAR

Dr Amara Thornton (Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology) ‘Archives, texts and the spade: a history of popular archaeology in print’ Palmer G06

Tuesday 12th November, 6-7.30pm (wk 7) EXHIBITION + CENTRE LAUNCH

‘Pelican Books by Design’, with items from the collection of Prof. Paul D. Lickess Typography department (Exhibition runs Oct – 20 Dec 2019)

Friday 22nd November, 11-1 (wk 8) WORKSHOP

Digital Humanities + Print Culture workshop, led by Pip Wilcox with colleagues’ sharing current practice from across the Centre Edith Morley 128

Tuesday 3rd December 5-6pm (wk 10) SEMINAR

Dr Nicola Wilson (Department of English Literature) ‘Books by Mail: Britain’s first celebrity book club’ Palmer G06

Conference on Women in Publishing, 13th-14th June, University of Reading, MERL

We are delighted to announce the programme for the Women in Publishing symposium at Reading next month, organised by the Archives and Texts research cluster in the School of Literature and Languages, University of Reading, to be held on Thursday-Friday 13th and 14th June, University of Reading, Special Collections, at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL).

It is free to attend but places are limited – please contact Dr Sophie Heywood if you would like to attend (also stating any dietary or access requirements) s.l.heywood@reading.ac.uk

Programme for Women in Publishing

University of Reading, Special Collections, at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL)

Thursday 13th June

3pm Welcome and refreshments – Seminar room

Dr Daniela La Penna, Dr Sophie Heywood and Dr Nicola Wilson (University of Reading)


Panel 1 The contemporary scene

Seminar room

Chair: Dr Nicola Wilson (University of Reading)

Dr Gill Tasker (University of Stirling), “(Nasty) Women at the Top? 50 Years of Independent Publishing in Scotland”

Christina Neuwirth (University of Stirling), “Exploring Inequality in Contemporary Scottish Publishing”

Dr Stevie Marsden (University of Leicester), “When is a writer not a writer? When he’s a man: Myths and Misconceptions of Literary Awards and Women Writers”


Roundtable Women in Publishing: Then and Now

Conference room

With Jane Cholmeley (Women in Publishing member, co-founder of Silver Moon Women’s Bookshop), Jill Shefrin (University of Toronto), Dr Kate Macdonald (Handheld Press), and Harriet Judd (Eiderdown Books)

Chair: Shelley Harris (author of Jubilee and Vigilante, University of Reading)

6-7pm Drinks at the MERL

Friday 14th June


Panel 2 Feminist publishing

Conference room

Chair: Dr Nicola Wilson (University of Reading)

Gail Chester (Independent scholar), “Culture vs commerce: The publishing of feminist books since 1945”

Dr Kaja Marczewska (University of Coventry), “Building Feminist Institutions: Women in Distribution, the feminist press, and cultures of small press circulation”

Professor Margaretta Jolly (University of Sussex) and Dr D-M Withers (University of Sussex), “The Business of Women’s Words: Purpose and Profit in Feminist Publishing”

Panel 3 Women in Publishing: Spain

Seminar room

Chair: Dr Cherylin Elston (University of Reading)

Dr Marta Simó Comas (University of Reading), “Democratizing Culture and Building a New Consciousness: The transformative female publishers of post-Franco Spain”

Carlota Álvarez (Centre for Human and Social Sciences, CSIC)), “Beatriz de Moura and Tusquets Publisher”

Dr Mazal Oaknin (University College London), “Rosa Montero’s Odyssey in the Spanish Literary Market: from Feminist to ‘Humanist’”

11-11.30 Coffee break


Panel 4 Children’s literature

Conference room

Chair: Dr Sophie Heywood (University of Reading)

Liz West (University of Reading), “Very important jobs for ‘mere girls’: women as pioneering children’s editors in the early twentieth century”

Jill Shefrin (University of Toronto), “‘The author’s debt here is gladly acknowledged’: Children’s librarians and children’s book publishing in the first half of the twentieth century. Examples from the Toronto Public Library and elsewhere”

Dr Mathilde Lévêque (University of Paris 13), “French women in children’s publishing in the late 1960s: from invisibility to predominance”

Panel 5 Editing + loving women

Seminar room

Chair: Dr D-M Withers (University of Sussex)

Anna Murdoch (University of Reading), “Onlywomen Press + lesbian romances”

Dr Charlotte Terrell (University of Sussex), “‘practice dispassion, don’t love the work’: Toni Morrison, editing and affective labour”

Rosy Mack (University of Austin at Texas), “Feminist Editing in Practice: Care, Ideology and Lesbian Revisionism”

12.45-1.30 Lunch + please visit the pop-up exhibition on Women in Publishing from Special Collections, curated by Anna Murdoch. Downstairs in the Studio


Panel 6 Women in Publishing: Italy

Conference room

Chair: Dr Daniela la Penna (University of Reading)

Sara Follacchio (independent scholar), “A literary bridge between Italy and the United States: the Danesi sisters”

Giulia Pellizzato (Brown University), “Like Needle and Thread: How women connected Italy to America at the house of John Farrar and Roger Straus”

Carmela Pierini (Università Cattolica, Milan), “From translation to authorship: Anna Banti and Mondadori”

Teresa Franco (Oxford University), “Natalia Ginzburg: From Einaudi to Carcanet”

Panel 7 Editors, gatekeepers, archives

Seminar room

Chair: Dr Amara Thornton (University of Reading)

Dr Sara Sullam (University of Milan), “Profiling Gwenda David: Reader, translator, reviewer, scout”

Professor Alison Donnell and Jennifer McDerra (University of East Anglia), “Caribbean Women 1890s-1980s: Publishing & the politics of small gestures”

3-3.30 Coffee



Panel 8 Publishing and design  

Conference room

Chair: Dr Sara Sullam (Milan)

Dr Amara Thornton (University of Reading), “Editing and Illustrating: Women and Popular Archaeology Publishing”

Professor Fiona Ross (University of Reading), “Women in Type”

Professor Sue Walker (University of Reading), “Marie Neurath and Isotype”

Panel 9 Periodicals

Seminar room

Chair: Dr Sophie Heywood (University of Reading)

Charlotte D’Eer (Ghent University), “Women Editors, Transnational Networks and Editorial Strategies: An analysis of the feminist periodical, Dokumente der Frauen, 1899-1902

Bec Wonders (Glasgow School of Art), “‘Dear Sisters’: the role of letters in British second-wave feminist periodicals”

Dr Lucy Pearson (Newcastle University) and Dr Hazel Sheeky Bird (Seven Stories), “Signal and Nancy Chambers”


Panel 10 Women in Publishing: 1979

Conference room

Chair: Dr Nicola Wilson (University of Reading)

Jane Cholmeley and Penny Mountain

5.30-6 Conclusion – all

Thursday 9th May 1-2pm, Dr D-M Withers (Sussex) ‘Virago Modern Classics and Libraries’

The Virago Modern Classics series – and offshoots such as the Virago Victorian Classics – reprinted ‘forgotten’ works by women writers from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; it remains one of the most iconic publishing interventions of recent times. Yet how did Virago find books for the series given that the women writers it celebrated were, in the late 70s, apparently ‘hidden from history’? This presentation draws on material from the Virago and Carmen Callil archives based at the British Library to reveal how Virago used a variety of libraries to source out-of-print works and establish bibliographic details for the Modern and Victorian Classics series. Virago’s readers were also central to the process of discovery: they provided the company with detailed information about where to find titles, but also enabled Callil and her colleagues to understand the challenges readers faced when they tried to acquire ‘hard-to-reach’ books. Such knowledge, in turn, informed decisions about marketing and selection as Virago gained awareness of the scarcity of texts alongside idiosyncratic appraisals of their literary and cultural value. As such, these archives offer fascinating insight into how a cutting-edge publishing series was constructed while enabling wider understanding of reading practices and library infrastructures in the late 70s and early 80s. Overall, I want to suggest, these materials affirm the vital – and under-emphasised – role of libraries in the commercial ecology of the publishing industry.

Thursday 9th May, 1-2pm

G10, Edith Morley, Whiteknights campus, University of Reading

All welcome! Feel free to bring your lunch.

Image credit: https://www.virago.co.uk/th_gallery/1999-virago-modern-classics-is-21/

Thursday 14th March (wk 9), Dr Rowena Kennedy-Epstein (Bristol) ‘So Easy to See: Muriel Rukeyser and Berenice Abbott’s Unfinished Collaboration’

This talk will focus on the lost collaboration between Muriel Rukeyser and Berenice Abbott, So Easy to See, which pairs Abbott’s innovative Super-Sight photographs with Rukeyser’s poetic-theoretical discussions of ‘seeing’ in order to discuss lesbian desire, the atomic bomb, the relationship between art and science, and female genius. Their project was repeatedly rejected by male editors and curators, who demeaned and undervalued its innovative nature, in part because Abbott and Rukeyser dared to assert themselves as scientific experts; nevertheless, it is an intellectually rich and artistically innovative collaboration by two of the twentieth century’s most versatile artists. Through their collaboration, Rukeyser and Abbott worked against accepted gendered and disciplinary boundaries, in order to show how ‘science and art meet and might meet in our time’ as sources of imaginative possibility and social progress. In doing so, they engendered questions about what kinds of collaborative and artistic practices are sanctioned, about the ontology of things and the everyday, about materialist philosophy and about the radical possibilities of interdisciplinarity. By making visible this lost collaboration, this essay participates in the recovery of an innovative and exciting modernist collaboration, and asks us to see both the lost potential of its inventiveness as well as to contextualise its disappearance. In order to see their work on ‘seeing’, we must also undertake an exploration into the cultural mechanisms that obfuscated it at mid-century.

5-6pm, Edith Morley, G44

All welcome!

RKE headshot1.jpg


‘”A Wedge from the North”: The Founding of Poetry Nation’, Dr Will Davies (Reading)

This talk will deploy materials from the Carcanet Press archive at John Rylands Library in order to consider the role played by Poetry Nation, then the first issues of PN Review, in re-energising the interaction between international modernism and a version of an English national poetry.

Specifically, the talk will focus upon the correspondence in the archive relating to two figures: Donald Davie and Charles Tomlinson. The letters speak much about the ambitions of the journals regarding the political and cultural landscape of Britain into which the editors wished to intervene. They are also significant for what they tell us about the potential ‘groupings’ of writers at that time – those who were seen to be possible contributors to the journals because of their attitudes and poetries, and those who were definitely excluded. From this process, a clear picture emerges about the distance between the Press, the journals and a ‘metropolitan’ poetry which was taken to be hostile to it.

The paper forms an initial stage of a larger project to ‘map’ the ways in which English poetry in the decades following the Second World War was being opened up to American and European influence at the same time as the ‘little Englandism’ of Larkin and Amis was being heralded in the mainstream media and in academic literary criticism. Davie and Tomlinson form the central ‘pivots’ of the project. But the role of Carcanet and of its associated journals inevitably forms the latter end of the history which is to be created – a history which has become particularly relevant again, and which might have much to say to recently emergent poets in this country.


Dr William Davies is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Reading. His research focuses on the intersections of war and literature in the twentieth century, particularly in the work of Samuel Beckett. Alongside forthcoming articles in Twentieth-Century Literature, Journal of War and Culture Studies and Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd’hui, his monograph, Samuel Beckett and the Second World War is forthcoming with Bloomsbury in 2020 and he is the co-editor with Dr Helen Bailey of Beckett and Politics, forthcoming with Palgrave in 2019. He is also writing a series of essays examining the impact of the Second World War on post-1945 English poets. The first of these, ‘Donald Davie and Englishness’, is published in The Review of English Studies.

Thursday 28th Feb, 5-6pm in Edith Morley, G44. All welcome!

Thursday 6th Dec (wk 10), 5-6pm Dr Sara Sullum (Milan, British Academy Visiting Fellow, MLES) ‘Reading for translation: Anglo-Italian literary transfer in publishers’ papers’

The importance of publishers’ papers for the study of literary history has been highlighted by several studies over the last decade. In the twentieth century, the “mediation of publishing” became as relevant an institution as literary criticism in the definition of a literary canon, be it domestic, foreign or transnational. The concurrent professionalization of specialized intellectual work based in publishing including professional figures such as literary agents, series editors and consultants (readers and translators) played a key role in the shaping of publishers’ catalogues and their papers therefore represent an invaluable source for studies in the field.

By focusing on Anglo-Italian literary transfer, with specific attention to the novel, my paper will analyse archival evidence – readers’ reports and publishers’ correspondence – to illustrate the ways in which professionals working in literary publishing coined and/or used a set of easily translatable cultural categories to select, evaluate and market fiction produced between the Forties and early Sixties in both United Kingdom and Italy. In particular, I am interested in showing how their particular use of these categories – e.g. “realism” or “neorealism” – can shed new light on the dynamics of literary transfer and reception.

Sara Sullam is Assistant Professor of English Literature at Milan University and British Academy Visiting Fellow at the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies.

G44 Edith Morley, Whiteknights Campus. All welcome!


Thursday 15th November (wk 7), 5-6pm Dr Sophie Heywood (MLES, Reading) ‘The children’s ’68’

This paper presents some of the findings of the project “The Children’s ’68” led by Sophie Heywood, based in the University of Tours InTRu Laboratory, and financed by the STUDIUM/Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellowship programme 2016/17.

The aim was to analyse 1968 as a watershed moment in children’s culture and its related disciplines, following Marwick’s (1998) definition of 1968 as the crystallisation of the cultural revolution of the ‘long sixties’ (c.1958-c.1974). By thinking about children’s culture as a site for artistic and intellectual experimentation, at the centre of ideological activity across disciplinary boundaries and national borders, this project opened up new ways of understanding the 1968 liberation movements and their legacies. Culminating in a series of public events and exhibitions in 2018 for the fiftieth anniversary of 1968, it brought the children’s perspective into scholarly debate and public commemorations.



Dr Daisy Hay: Dinner with Joseph Johnson

Thursday 8th Feb: 5-6pm, Edith Morley G10, Whiteknights campus

Joseph Johnson, Bookseller.

Daisy Hay is the author of Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron and Other Tangled Lives and Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance. In this talk she will outline the shape of her current project, a book provisionally entitled Dinner with Joseph Johnson. Joseph Johnson published many of the writers we associate with the early Romantic period, and every week at his dinner table he brought them together, welding them into a shifting community with overlapping passions and preoccupations. In the late eighteenth century the makers of books were the makers of dreams, producing groups who between them created new kinds of literature, new conceptions of creativity, and new national narratives. Dinner with Joseph Johnson will position Johnson at the centre of a group biography whose cast will include Anna Barbauld, Sarah Trimmer, Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, William Cowper, Joseph Priestley, Erasmus Darwin, Henry Fuseli, Theophilus Lindsey, William Blake, Thomas Paine, Charlotte Smith and Maria Edgeworth, among others. In her paper Daisy will sketch out some of the creative and technical challenges inherent in shaping a narrative out of this cast list, discuss matters of biographical process, and share some early thoughts about the way in which Johnson’s dealings with his authors reveal the dynamics of the circle he created.

Dr Daisy Hay
Senior Lecturer, English Literature and Archival Studies
University of Exeter
01392 722452


Dr Cathy Clay (English, Nottingham Trent) ‘Rereading the Time and Tide Archive: The Feminist and Cultural Politics of a Modern Magazine’

Thursday 25th January (wk 3), 5-6pm

Edith Morley G10

All welcome 

Time and Tide, the feminist weekly review founded in 1920 by Welsh businesswoman and suffragette Lady Margaret Rhondda, is one of the richest archives for exploring British feminism and women’s writing in the interwar years. During its first decade the periodical was a vocal participant in post-war feminist debates, and regularly carried articles on issues relating to women. It also published poems, stories and other features by leading women writers of the period, from middlebrow authors such as E. M. Delafield to Britain’s best-known female modernist Virginia Woolf. The periodical’s gradual rebranding, however, as a more general-audience, less woman-focused magazine, has been read as an abandonment of its feminism. According to David Doughan and Denise Sanchez, ‘in the 1930s [Time and Tide’s] feminism gradually faded away’ (1987: 45), with the periodical becoming ‘a highly respected political/cultural/literary weekly […] at the cost of divesting itself of any specific feminist commitment’ (Doughan 1987: 268-71).

This paper offers a rereading of Time and Tide that necessitates a more nuanced understanding of its relationship to feminism and to the wider political and cultural landscape of interwar Britain. Based on extensive new archival research conducted for my forthcoming book Time and Tide: the Feminist and Cultural Politics of a Modern Magazine (EUP, 2018), I argue that far from abandoning its feminist commitment Time and Tide extended beyond a narrow definition of feminism as it worked to secure women’s position at the heart of public and political life: a goal entirely consistent with an equalitarian feminist tradition. Through an analysis of Time and Tide’s internal and external marketing strategies, its uses of design and illustration, and strategic staging of voices in its correspondence columns, I show that despite surface appearances feminism remained a central motivating and shaping force on Time and Tide’s editorial policy and content. Establishing itself as the only female-controlled intellectual weekly in the ‘golden age’ of the weekly review, Time and Tide remains a beacon of feminist achievement throughout the interwar years and beyond.