Working Groups

WG1- Reading Ethics, Individual & Cognitive Development

Co-Coordinators: L. Braida & B. Ouvry-Vial – 20 participants

WG1 will explore diachronic and synchronic changes or patterns in ordinary and expert readers’ cognitive skills, values, ways and modalities of reading, silent or aloud, individual and collective, intensive and extensive, and the birth of reading and interpretive communities across time and space in diverse European contexts. It expects to prolong and update pioneering works (Fish 1980, Cavallo & Chartier 1995, McKenzie 1999) with fresh evidence and recent findings in Reading history and to reassess the decisive impact of reading material, whether physical or virtual in the process of meaning construction and transmission. WG1 activities aim to outline the historical evolution (Braida) of reading practices and techniques (Chymkowski), to enlight contemporary issues raised by new digital technologies (Doueihi, Candel) and the persistent status of reading as a cultural legacy in specific regions of Europe (Ritte, Travnicek). It will particularly focus on shared reading activities (Fuller) of popular and wide circulation print matters (Braida, Lüsebrink), on press and non-books reading (Botrel, Slauter) that have proven to be of common value or “personal classics” (Ouvry-Vial, Ritte) for readers of very different social and cultural backgrounds outside established canons (Candel, Toth, Travnicek) and nurtured social reading communities (Bazin, Fuller, Toth). The WG will identify intellectual and leisure values (Gauzente, Souchier, Chymkovski) attached to reading that influenced authors and publishers strategies (Absillis, Ouvry-Vial), including self-publishing authors (Felton), particularly towards children (Bazin), women (Skjerdingstad), students (Marazzi), trade fiction consumers (Towheed, Vatcheva), and scholars (Citton). A stepwise plan of activities, including meetings, archive documentation and case-studies will establish a common methodological approach to evaluate: personal perceptions in traditional individual reading of young readers (Gauzente) and writers (Ouvry-Vial, Ritte), in virtual interactive reading (Citton, Gomez-Mejia), in institutional approaches to cultural promotion (Rankov, Chimkovski); online literary text handling (Candel); critical reading and recommendation practices through traditional (Dewez) and digital media (Candel, Dumouchel). Scientific and public dissemination events will display the visual representations of reading in Arts (Ritte); detail the emergence of a massive and shared scientific culture (Oels, Richard) in the perspective of a History of knowledge from below (Richard); identify selected models of shared reading for cross-cultural and cross-border understanding among contemporary Europeans (Fuller) and portray the anthropological effects of digital reading on personal sense of identity and on cultural awareness (Doueihi, Ouvry-Vial). Activities include exchanging findings, models, extant data with colleagues within the WG and outside the network; 1 survey “Studying Reading in Central Europe: From Prominent Intellectuals to Common Readers”; 2 regional venues (Milan, Praha); interaction with several traditional and e-books publishers and cultural media (YouScribe, Le Seuil, etc), connections with academic websites (, etc.), popularization websites ( and others) as well as think tanks (ECREA, Culture Action Europe, etc).


WG2-Readership & Social, Political and Economic environments

Coordinator: Hans-Jürgen Lüsebrink – 17 participants

WG2 aims to analyze, in both a comparative and intercultural perspective, e.g. pertaining to the relationships and transfers between different cultures and societies (Lüsebrink, Solte-Gresser, Schmeling 2013), modern and contemporary ways of reading according to specific social, political, generational and gender dimensions. It will concentrate on three main topics:  1. Relationships between cultural policies of modern and contemporary Nation-States and readership, e.g. common characteristics and cultural specificities underlying these relationships in modern and contemporary European societies. This core question will raise issues about the emergence of ‚national reading canons’ in France between the revolutionary period and the end of the Third Republic (Lüsebrink), in the communist Nation-States of Eastern Europe (Balauca, Lishaugen, Rebecchini), in Spain during the 19th and 20th centuries (Martinez Rus, Sanchez) and in the Czech Republic (Madl, Pisa, Wögerbauer). The problematics of literary and cultural counter-canons‚ contesting forms’ and ‚heretic forms’ of reading (Lüsebrink) will be investigated based on the comparative study of prints and ‚contesting’ forms of reading during the French Revolution and the Resistance-period in France (Lüsebrink, Van Rossem, Vignale); it will also focus on the promotion, enforcement and overall control (Balauca, Lishaugen) of printing, publishing and reading along with its moral, aesthetic or ideological value (Rebecchini)  and long time effects to be investigated through a specific survey on « Centrally Controlled Reading » 2. The reading tastes and habits of specific groups of readers according to social and cultural attitudes or categories of readers like the ‚feminine reading public’ (Rebecchini, Skjerdingstad), the ‚proletarian reader’ (Rebecchini) and ‚young readers’ (Martinez-Rus, Sanchez, Norrick-Rühl, Ramdarshan-Bold), related to a specific social and cultural ‚habitus’ as defined by Bourdieu: national paradigms, British (Ramdarshan-Bold), Dutch (Lübbers), German (Norrick-Rühl) or Russian (Rebecchini), will lead to intercultural approaches such as Readers of translations in 20th and 21st C Germany and UK and empirical data will build a theoretical framework for further comparative research about today. 3. The persistence in many contemporary societies inside and outside Europe of transcultural structures and networks created in modern Europe since the 15th century for the production and distribution of printed material and including bespoke commercial strategies and reading targets (Lüsebrink, Sarrazin). Empirical research (Lübbers, Rebecchini, Sarrazin and others), surveys such as « Reading Culture in Visegrád Countries, a common and comparative readership survey » and synchronic studies of the relationships between publishing strategies and cultural history of libraries in the Netherlands in the Age of Revolutions as well as revolutionary imagery during the Ancien Regime will be examined in view of establishing an historiographic model for later periods. These three focus points will connect in benchmark case-studies such as the topographic and prosopographic study analysis of the Bohemian Book Market 1749-1848 (Madl, Pisa, Wögerbauer), which will attempt at modeling the role of the book in the building of a small European non-state nation, the Czech nation that saw itself as a nation of readers, in interaction with national German development. Activities in WG2 will include 1 Regional venue: “Censors and Readers: Educating, Controlling, Resisting”; 1 interactive workshop with professionals “Book Market and Readership: An (A) symmetric Relation?”; open-source documentary and archival research made available to the scientific community on correlated research programs platforms (e.g. “Transculturalité des espaces nationaux”, Sarrebrück, Marburg, ENS-Paris); WG2 workshops online proceedings; at least one monograph will be completed within the 24 months Action timescale, “Bohemian book professionals and firms from 1749 to 1848” to be submitted by January  2017 and published  by Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, Germany.

 WG3 Reading Formats, Visual Culture, Intermedialities & Knowledge Transfer 

Coordinator: Etienne Candel – 18 participants

WG3 will focus on the analysis of reading experiences in relation to their material support and as well as the new media strategies that subsume intermedial reading practices today (e.g. pertaining to mixed media reading matters coalescing text and images in renewed formats). It will analyze how the visual culture affects the structure and the understanding of written material, creates new uses of texts and different forms of access to information and knowledge. It will attempt a valid definition and theoretical approach of reading based on a comparative and historical approach (Botrel, Braida) of intermediality and its role in shaping texts in the past (Lübbers, Van Rossem, Ritte) and in the age of new media (Chasseray-Peraldi, Gomez-Mejia).  Fresh perspective on readers as consumers (Caemmerer) driven by technological transformations of cultural artefacts (Pailler, Ranc) and on a reconsideration of the so called digital “revolution” (Braida, Candel, Citton), a commonplace taken for granted, yet one that needs reassessment. Activities will involve a wide range of discussions and exchanges on methodological issues to attempt at a renewed theory of texts as dynamic objects produced through complex mediations and partly defined by the activity of reading (Ouvry-Vial, Souchier). Participants will focus on apparatuses, artifacts (Braida, Ranc), digital formats such as PDF, e-pub, html (Caemmerer, Ranc, Vignale), reading contexts and conditions (Doueihi, Ouvry-Vial, Travnicek). Intermediality, considered central to the new concept of text (McKenzie 1999) will be approached through a media archaeology perspective (Citton, Rankov).  As new genres and formats appear (read/write books, e-enhanced books, e-books, etc.), print culture is being replaced by a pleasurable written/visual culture the readability of which needs to be explored (Chimkovski, Ranc, Rankov, Toth). The reader’s handling of the text on screen (Candel) takes over reader’s response to the text in traditional written matter (Dumouchel, Rankov). Despite the intriguing rise of a new cultural webjournalism (Slauter) and book criticism through online interactive blogs (Absillis, Dumouchel, Van Rossem), questions arise about transparent access to knowledge and information (Oels, Orestano, Richard).  The shaping of reading and learning process through specific formats, genres (Candel, Gomez-Mejia, Orestano) and marketing strategies (Caemmerer, Gauzente, Ranc), needs to be investigated, especially as it eludes institutional oversight and is directed at young readers (Cottier, Orestano). While it seems simplistic to relate the decline of print to the conquest of screens, the service dominant logics attached to digital marketing favors a customized reading experience at readers’ will (Caemmerer). Interaction with professionals in new Social Media Clubs (Candel, Dumouchel), in traditional versus digital publishing (Gauzente), and in the emerging online publishing structures (Candel, Dumouchel, Chasseray-Peraldi, Gomez-Mejia) will provide insights into their strategies and values (Gauzente, Ouvry-Vial). Activities include a series of graduate seminars devoted to “History of texts and the current transformations of media”; a public lecture about “Social uses of literacy and social values of texts: interpreters, critics, mediators”; 3 communications in international and regional venues delivering ongoing research about “Intermediality, semiotics of texts and the shaping of contemporary written culture”; online proceedings of WG3 workshop on “Publics, readership, and the social construction of readable texts”. WG3 key success-indicator will be an international methodological and epistemological framework (including shared definitions of “Reader, Reading, Readership” and common design for questionnaires, data collection, etc.) for a pan-European survey on contemporary intermedial reading practices which will be part of the research funding bid within Horizon 2020.

 WG4: Reading Tools, Pedagogy, and Didactics of New Media

Coordinator: Matthew Rubery – 15 participants

WG4 will analyze changes to the publishing industry in response to new digital technologies that are transforming the way people read. It plans to explore the impact of various media (including tablet computers, mobile phones, and portable listening devices such as iPods) on books and practical people’s reading experiences throughout Europe. This group will also evaluate the impact various textual formats (from print books to electronic books and audiobooks) have on people’s relationship to reading and on the methods of interpretation appropriate to each of them. Contributors bring particular expertise on the topics of scientific textbooks in France, children’s picture books in France and Spain, audiobooks in Britain, « Sachbuchs » in Germany, and copyright, self-publishing, and typefaces across Europe. Additional consideration will be given to publishers’ efforts to reach audiences with special needs including children, immigrants, prisoners, the illiterate, and people with mental and physical disabilities. This working group addresses several key gaps in our knowledge about reading in today’s Europe. Hence, researchers in this group will collaborate on the following objectives: Addressing the social, cultural, and legal ramifications of new forms of digital publishing (Felton, Toth); Evaluating the relevance of scientific, vocational, and educational material for the general public and learning audiences (Cottier, Rebellato, Richard, Toth); Examining the implications of reading as a multimodal activity involving different media and using the full range of senses including vision, hearing, and touch (Rubery); Assessing the value of reading among disadvantaged or marginalized social groups (Pailler) including children, immigrants, prisoners, the illiterate, and people with mental and physical disabilities (Rubery). Activities will follow a roadmap of thematic focused WG workshops (WS) with designated speakers as follows: WS1- New media’s impact on publishers and publishing formats (Felton, Gomez Mejia, Sarrazin); WS2- New publishing, bookstores and library strategies for a digital multimedia environment (Chymkovski, Oels, Ranc, Rankov, Toth); WS-3 New approaches to scientific, vocational, and educational books (Cottier, Marazzi, Orestano); WS4- New audiences including children, immigrants, prisoners, the illiterate, and people with mental and physical disabilities (Bazin, Rubery). WG4 key success-indicator will be a monograph on Reading for the blind to also establish links among international reading projects, centers, and events with which its members are involved. These organizations include: “Blindness, Technology, and Multimodal Reading” (, “Children’s Literature in Italy” (, “Groupe de Recherche en Histoire des Sociabilités” (, “History of the Book Group at Harvard” (, “Interacting with Print” (,  “Sachbuchforschung” (, and “Text/ure: The Object Book from Paper to Digital” ( Additional partnerships will be established with the creative industries, educational institutions, and voluntary sector organizations with an interest in literacy. In this way, the group’s findings will be made visible beyond the academic community to the general public.

 WG5 Digital Support Group- EU-RED Development

Coordinator: Shafquat Towheed – 4 participants & all WGS

WG5 is a technical support group essentially dedicated to the EU-RED database development. WG5 will be composed of a Database expert (Towheed), with extensive expertise as Director of the pioneerin UK-RED, and a Database Project Supervisor (Vignale). A digital engineer (to be recruited) will develop the tool according to the coordinator’s established protocol and under the supervision of the project manager. P-RECIHC coordinator (Ouvry-Vial) will be fully involved in WG5 as the database will be built and hosted on her university premises. All network participants will also be involved in defining the ontologies as well in data collection for future processing. Some network participants (Fuller, Norrick-Rühl, Travnicek, Wögerbauer) have special expertise in smaller scale databases and special interest in EU-RED development for specific research purposes. Moreover, as building the EU-RED is a common goal of upmost importance to all participants and as all are willing to participate in conceiving the ontologies and future data extractions, a plenary session around WG5 topics will be held at each network general meeting, WGs workshops and regional venues as well. This way, building the database will a process of cooperation and mutual exchanges between the database developers and its primary end-users. WG5 will establish connections with other ongoing proejcts of the kind, although few have similar ambitions and scope. Progress will be made available to the scientific community as opensource. The stakes of EU-RED as the World First European Reading Database, the methods it requires and technical processes it will follow are detailed in section 1.3.2 and 2.1.3. of this proposal. 4 Short Term Scientific Missions will be devoted to the coordination team whereabouts. They include consultations with UK-RED team at Open University London and with engineers at the University of Birmingham Digital Humanities Hub.

Une réflexion au sujet de « Working Groups »

  1. Dear Shafquat,
    I spoke with you at your SHARP presentation this year about the doctoral research I’m doing in the British Publishing & Printing archives at Reading (one of my supervisors is Andrew Nash). My focus is on Mills & Boon and the experience of romance readers (reading for pleasure and professionally). You suggested I contact François Vignale for information about how I could usefully use your lexicon of key words as I mine the archive but I have not found an email address. I’d like to be able to make my research as useful as possible so if we could be put in touch that would be great. I’m covering 1945-73 but the archive dates back and there may be useful examples I could submit to the UK RED. (I also have that lovely reading model by sociologist Peter H. Mann).
    I lead the MA and BA Publishing courses at Kingston University and am hoping to do future with Melanie Ramdarshan-Bold at UCL on digital reading communities. I have found The History of Reading volumes very valuable.
    I look forward to hearing from you,
    Judith Watts

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