NeMLA (Northeast Modern Language Association)
48th Annual Convention
March 23-26, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland
Session title: 'Reader, I married him!': Investigating 19th-Century Readers and Reading the 19th Century
As Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre reminds us with her exclamation, “Reader, I married him!,” writers of fiction in the nineteenth century were very aware of their readership with texts. In the increasingly literate century, readers were savvy consumers, rapt fans, and scathing critics. They read penny papers, novels, and genre specific magazines. They read at home, in libraries, and on trains. In breaking the fourth wall to address her “reader,” Bronte evokes the relationship between audience and text that was complicated in the nineteenth century by the publishing industry and new technologies. Contemporary readers of nineteenth century texts also find themselves in a relationship with technology. New digitization projects have made previously inaccessible texts available to wide audiences. Interactive e-texts are changing the meaning of annotation. New textual formats, like social media and e-readers are making it possible to read collaboratively with people all over the world. Like our nineteenth century counterparts, the way we read is changing. This panel invites work examining readers and reading practice in the Victorian era and contemporary readers or readings of Victorian novels.
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