Reading Postures

I attended the Harvard English Institute two weeks ago, and intended to blog about it immediately.  Better late than never I hope!

The conference draws scholars from all around Boston as well as the U.S. and Canada, and makes me wonder if this is what a more local conference culture is like, rather than geographically spread out conferences North Americans often attend.  Of special interest to those of us who work on nineteenth-century literature and culture was a talk Patricia Crain (NYU) gave on “Postures and Places,” which was about children’s practices of reading in the U.S.–or, more literally, what nooks children in read or were depicted as reading in, and what physical postures they took up as they read.  Crane concentrated on the child curled up in the window seat (or sitting cross-legged in the window seat as Jane Eyre does); and on what I learned was a new practice of reading in the 1870s, the bed-time story, where a (middle-class) child is read to in bed.  This practice seemed so natural from my own middle-class childhood that it was fascinating to learn it had a history, though I suppose I should be used to that sort of revelation by now!  Crain’s talk also reminded me of Robyn Warhol’s discussion of the reading postures we take up now and the embodied experience of reading in Having a Good Cry.

Probably either of the postures Crain outlined is preferable to the way that I often read now—hunched up over my computer.  I’d be curious as to what postures and places others read in, and how it affects the experience.  Does it depend on what genre you’re reading?  Does fiction entail a more relaxed posture than criticism?


Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada 2012 Conference

The following call for papers seems ideal for all of us here at the Floating Academy, and to many of our readers as well. I hope to see you all there next April.

CFP: VSAWC Conference, “Victorian Media,” (Victoria, British Columbia, April 2012)

The Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada invites proposals for a conference on Victorian Media. The conference, hosted by the University of Victoria, will be held from 26-28 April 2012 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

We seek proposals for papers that focus on the theme of media in relation to Victorian culture and knowledge: that is, the relation of Victorian media to the culture of the period and the relation of new media to the study, dissemination, and archiving of Victorian materials. In particular, we invite proposals on topics related to three main threads: Continue reading “Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada 2012 Conference”