Activity of our member: Damiano Rebecchini

Dear all,

I am pleased to announce the workshop “Towards a history of reading in Russia” organized by Damiano Rebecchini and Raffaella Vassena (both from Università degli Studi di Milano) which will take place in Gargnano del Garda (Italy) on 3-6 May 2017.

You can find the preliminary program below.

Workshop – “Towards a History of Reading in Russia”

(Gargnano sul Garda, 3-6 May 2017)

Preliminary program

 May, 3 h. 14,15 Opening

 14,30 SESSION 1: Kievian Russia and Muscovy

  1. Uspensky and A. Litvina (Higher School of Economics, Moscow), “Education and reading in Kievian Rus, from 11th through 13th Century”

(Chair) Daniel Waugh (University of Washington), (Reading in Muscovy)

Simon Franklin (Cambridge University) “Reading the streets (street signs, shop signs, etc) (early 18th to mid 19th Century)


 16,30 SESSION 2: 18th Century Russia

(Chair) Gary Marker (Stony Brook University), “Reading Communities or Reading Public: Revisioning Readership in Russia’s Long Eighteenth Century”

Kirill Ospovat, (Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg) “Reading and Readers in the post-petrine age”

Rodolphe Baudin (Université de Strasbourg), “Reading and Readers in Russia in the age of Catherine II”

h.19,30 Dinner

May, 4th

  1. 9,30 SESSION 3 19th Century Russia

Bella Grigoryan (Yale University), “The reading and readers of the Russian journals from Novikov’s age through the 1840’s”

(Chair) Andrei Zorin (Oxford University), The Impact of reading in the Life of a Russian Noble (The case of Andrei Turgenev)? (Otherwise on Karamzin’s Letters as program of reading)

Daria Khitrova (Harvard University) “Reading and readers of poetry in the Golden age”


Damiano Rebecchini (Università degli Studi di Milano) “Reading and Readers of the Russian novels in 1830s – 1840s”

Laura Rossi (Università degli Studi di Milano), Representations of reading in Russian memoirs, 1790s-1840s

  1. 13,00 lunch

h.15,30 SESSION 4: Nineteenth Century Russia

Abram Rejtblat (Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, Moscow), “Reading and Readers in 19th Century Russia, 1860s – 1880s”.

(Chair) William Mills Todd III (Harvard University), “Readers of journals, 1850s-1880s” (especially focused on Russkij Vestnik)

Aleksej Vdovin, Roman Leibov (Moscow-Tartu), “Reading in the Russian school in the 19th Century”


Marcus C. Levitt (University of Southern California), “Pushkin’s readers, 1855-1899”

Raffaella Vassena (Università degli studi di Milano), “Dostoevsky’s and Tostoy’s readers, 1870s-1900s”

19,30 Dinner

May, 5th

  1. 9,30 SESSION 5 20th Century Russia

Jeffrey Brooks (John Hopkins University), (Popular literature and popular readers)

Abram Rejtblat (Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, Moscow), “Books and reading in the peasant milieu”


Jon Stone (Franklin & Marshall College), “Reading and Readers in the Silver Age (1890s-1900s)”

(Chair) Oleg Lekmanov (Higher School of Economics, Moscow), Reading and Readers in 1920s

13 lunch

15,00 SESSION 6 20th Century Russia

Evgeny Dobrenko (The University of Sheffield), “Reading and readers in Stalinist years (30s – 50s)”

Denis Kozlov (Dalhousie University), “Reading and readers in Russia in 1950s-1970s.”

Birgit Menzel (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz), Reading in Russia during  and after Perestrojka until today


(chair) Catriona Kelly (Oxford University), Reading the Russian classics in Late Soviet Films

Roman Leibov (Tartu University), Reading in the Russian Internet

 May, 6th

 9,30 -12,30 FINAL SESSION

Open discussion about the topics arisen during the workshop, and reflection about the following points:

– Methodological problems: how shall we read “in Russia”: as a linguistic entity (Russian-speaking Russian readers) or as a geographycal entity (therefore including ethnical and linguistic minorities belonging to the Russian Empire and to USSR)?

– Potential gaps (in terms of topics or time periods) and possible candidates to enroll to the project:

— female readings

— reading of and for kids

— religious readings

— readings of ethnical and religious minorities (old believers, jews, lutherans, muslims, etc.)

— readings of texts in foreign languages (relationship between french and russian, etc.)

— prohibited readings (manuscripts, samizdat,etc.)

— iconographic representation of reading

– Proposals of possible case-studies and deep-dives

– Topics related to the process of preparation and editing of the book: realistic timeframe for the delivery of the contributions; possible support in the editing of traslated texts in English language; peer-review and possible reviewers, etc.

 Departure of the participants




Activities of our members: Publication of Elisa Marazzi

We are glad to announce the publication of “Miei piccoli lettori cover def“, directed by Elisa Marazzi. This book collects several articles about sciences in children’s literature. The collected essays retrace the history of children’s literature  between 19th and 20th century focusing on the presence of scientific issues. From magic tricks up to chemistry sets the idea to teach and delight was put into practice in manifold ways, as shown in the articles, all enrichend by illustrations.This book is postfaced by Pino Boero.

For more information, please follow this link:

Actuality of the members: New publication of Antonio Castillo Gómez

Antonio Castillo Gomez hast just published a new book, Leer y oír leer : ensayos sobre la lectura en los Siglos de Oro, available here.

Antonio Castillo Gomez is professor of History of writing culture in the University of Alcalá. He drives the research group “Lectura, Escritura y Alfabetización” (LEA)” and has written several books about written culture and society.

For more information, follow this link:

Activities of the network: Seminar with Roger Chartier at Milano the 24th. of May

The 24th of May, at the University of Milano, Lodovica Braida has the pleasure to welcome Roger Chartier in the seminar about reading, autorship and edition.

Roger Chartier will speak about “Mobilité des textes et diversité des langues: traduire aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles”. Before his Lectio Magistralis, there will be a discussion with several participants, Alberto Cadioli, Donatella Pallotti and Damiano Rebecchini.

The entrance is free and everyone is welcomed.

For more information, please, follow this link: Seminar Lodovica Braida

Activities of the members: Matthew Rubery and his new book “The Untold Story of the Talking Book”

We are very glad to announce the forthcoming publication of the last book of Matthew Rubery, “The Untold Story of the Talking Book”.

Histories of the book often move straight from the codex to the digital screen. Left out of that familiar account is nearly 150 years of audio recordings. Recounting the fascinating history of audio-recorded literature, Matthew Rubery traces the path of innovation from Edison’s recitation of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” for his tinfoil phonograph in 1877, to the first novel-length talking books made for blinded World War I veterans, to today’s billion-dollar audiobook industry.

The Untold Story of the Talking Book focuses on the social impact of audiobooks, not just the technological history, in telling a story of surprising and impassioned conflicts: from controversies over which books the Library of Congress selected to become talking books—yes to Kipling, no to Flaubert—to debates about what defines a reader. Delving into the vexed relationship between spoken and printed texts, Rubery argues that storytelling can be just as engaging with the ears as with the eyes, and that audiobooks deserve to be taken seriously. They are not mere derivatives of printed books but their own form of entertainment.

We have come a long way from the era of sound recorded on wax cylinders, when people imagined one day hearing entire novels on mini-phonographs tucked inside their hats. Rubery tells the untold story of this incredible evolution and, in doing so, breaks from convention by treating audiobooks as a distinctively modern art form that has profoundly influenced the way we read.

For more information, or to buy or recommend this book to your librarian:

Actualité des membres: Suzanne Dumouchel – nouvelle parution

Nouvelle parution / new book:
Le Journal littéraire en France au dix-huitième siècle: émergence d’une culture virtuelle

Suzanne Dumouchel
Préface de Jean-Paul Sermain

La presse littéraire joue un rôle considérable dans le développement de la sociabilité et des pratiques culturelles au XVIIIe siècle: elle favorise le dialogue avec les lecteurs, leur permet de développer leur esprit critique et contribue à la création de nouvelles pratiques. Dans quelle mesure agit-elle ainsi sur la société, la conception du savoir et la constitution d’une culture commune?

En se fondant sur cinq titres représentatifs – le Mercure de France, le Journal des dames, le Pour et contre de Prévost, le Nouvelliste du Parnasse de Desfontaines et Granet, l’Année littéraire de Fréron –, Suzanne Dumouchel analyse la place centrale des périodiques littéraires, trop souvent négligés par les historiens de la presse, dans la formation de lecteurs-citoyens. Par rapport à ceux du XVIIe siècle, les journaux littéraires du XVIIIe mettent en avant la subjectivité: celle des rédacteurs dans leur rapport aux textes, et celle des lecteurs, qui sont invités, par leurs envois et leurs discussions, à l’élaboration du journal. La presse littéraire d’Ancien Régime joue ainsi un rôle majeur dans la formation des mœurs, de l’opinion, des goûts, des relations sociales, préfigurant la presse plus politique du XVIIIe siècle.

Préface, Jean-Paul Sermain
I Entre pratiques éditoriales et pratiques auctoriales
1. Caractéristiques formelles
2. Culture du quotidien
3. Autorité du journal
II Relecture et réécriture: le journal comme atelier littéraire
4. Théâtralisation de l’information
5. Pédagogie critique
6. Rendre compte et représenter: activités critiques
III Du lecteur au public
7. Textes en débat
8. Un ‘public-journaliste’
9. Un espace médiatique
Conclusion générale
Annexe 1. Fiches sur les périodiques littéraires
Annexe 2. Table des références

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, March 2016
ISBN 978-0-7294-1174-5, 340 pages

Activities of the members: Damiano Rebecchini

Damiano Rebecchini, from the Università degli Studi di Milano, organizes a roundtable on the 20th of November entitled “Towards a History of Reading in Modern Russia”. Upon the Annual Convention of the Association of Slavic, East European, Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) in Philadelphia, Richard S. Wortman (Columbia University), Jeffrey S. Brooks (John Hopkins University), Damiano Rebecchini (Università degli Studi di Milano), Raffaella Vassena (Università degli Studi di Milano), and Kirill Ospovat (Higher School of Economics, Saint-Petersburg) will speak about a project which aims at the compilation of the first history of reading in Russia. The project was launched a few years ago at Milan University by Damiano Rebecchini and Raffaella Vassena and will bring together a number of reading specialists from Russia, the United States and Europe.

The roundtable at ASEEES will focus in particular on the use of different sources for a history of reading. Damiano Rebecchini will present some reflections on a particular source: the catalogues of the private libraries and the catalogues of the circulating libraries. Raffaella Vassena will talk about the letters of readers to great Russian novelists (Dostoevsky and Tolstoy) as a source for the study of reading in 19th Century Russia. Jeffrey brooks will present a paper on the reading of Children Literature in early Soviet Union. Kirill Ospovat will talk about a new approach to the history of reading in Russia in the 18th century.

For more information: Locandina Towards a History of Reading in Modern Russia-1

News of the project Reading in Europe

During the “Nuit Européenne des Chercheurs”, on the 27th of September, Gautier Michelin has spoken about the future european database about reading experiments. It was also the occasion to present different viewpoints of the project and to discuss with the public. Follow this link for more information:

Moreover, the project Reading in Europe has a new website to which will host the future database:


Activities of the members: Lodovica Braida’s seminar

Everyone is warmly welcomed to the session “Silences d’auteur: anonymat au XVIIIe siècle” which will take place at the University of Le Mans, the 1st of October. Lodovica Braida, full professor at the University of Milano will speak about Giuseppe Parini and Miguel de Cervantes.

For more information, please, click on that link: Séminaire Lodovica Braida

Some thoughts on the European Reading Experience Database by Gustavo Gomez-Mejia

It has been a month since the P-RECIHC network had its first plenary meeting in Le Mans. With the scope of building an European Reading Experience Database (EURED), our three-day sessions raised fundamental research questions. What else could happen when you gather five working groups of scholars from all around Europe in order to shape a digital treasure? As we conceptualise centuries of reading experiences from the standpoint of Literature, History or Communication studies -just to name a few disciplines-, the standardised requirements of data collection bring to the forefront very significant dimensions of such experiences. How do we describe the diverse cultural backgrounds of reading practices throughout the history of Europe? To which extent can we go beyond archetypal book readers and take into account the realm of signs that we read in public spaces or on contemporary screens? Do we need a “metaphor” field for practices such as “skimming” and their linguistic variations? The list of questions raised by EURED goes on in a Borgesian manner, opening a wide range of perspectives for studying the social life of literacies.

Gustavo Gomez-Mejia, Université François Rabelais (CITERES, Tours)

Report of the Workshop ANR P-RECIHC by Matthew Rubery

Photos 29 mai 2015 003Photos 29 mai 2015 004Photos 29 mai 2015 005Photos 29 mai 2015 006Photos 29 mai 2015 007Photos 29 mai 2015 010Photos 29 mai 2015 011Photos 29 mai 2015 012Photos 29 mai 2015 013Photos 29 mai 2015 014Delegates from ten European countries gathered in Le Mans last month for Workshop ANR P-RECIHC (Reading in Europe: Contemporary Issues in Historical and Contemporary Perspectives). The presentations covered everything from data management to censorship, translation, and computer gaming. In between sessions, the networking continued over coffee, lunch, and dinner at Takayanagi restaurant. On Saturday night, the group had a chance for informal conversation during a stroll around the stunning Cathedrale de Saint-Julien de Mans and cocktails on a rooftop terrace overlooking the Cité Plantagenêt. Who knew that the Le Mans nightlife rivalled Paris? On the final day, a reception organized by the University sent the guests back to their home countries with the taste of Le Mans’ famed white wine on their lips.

Contribution of Reading studies to contemporary publishing industry by Brigitte Ouvry-Vial

With the digital revolution, we are witnessing today simultaneous transformations in the ways that texts are produced, distributed and experienced by readers. As reading remains crucial in fostering a responsible citizenry, and key to educational attainment, cultural enrichment and leisure, these developments have important consequences for literacy and access to culture across Europe, raising also political and socio-economic questions.

Public reports show that information and communication technologies (ICTs) challenge traditional reading and learning habits in ways that lead to social divisions. As people read less printed material, a socio-economic and generational gap emerges between digital natives with limited attention spans and critical reading-skills, and expert readers who combine traditional and digital reading.

Europe wields immense cultural influence through its educated readership, international stature of its publishing industry and an editorial diversity largely supported by fixed book prices. But new devices (audiobooks, e-books, tablets,) are reshaping the roles of authors and publishers inspiring new commercial strategies and creating new experiences for readers, who are confronted with texts in multiple versions and formats.

As anticipated by Donald McKenzie in Bibliography and the sociology of texts (Cambridge University Press, 1984, pp. 70-71), a 1984 founding book for both historical and contemporary Book and Reading studies at large, the digital revolution entices an era and cultural literacy in which “ we do not buy the book so much as the time in which to read it. With new forms of text, we buy, in bulk, the reading, viewing, or listening time in the form of an entrance fee to the cinema, a hiring fee for the disc or video {…}, or we pay an access fee for the information in a data bank.”

Indeed, despite assumptions that “reading is both an unnatural, non-innate, and highly artificial activity of the mind-brain” (A. M Jacobs, “Towards a neurocognitive poetics model of literary reading”, 2014), contemporary cultural and social practices seem to highlight a renewed definition of reading beyond its traditional one of acquired text and even image reading proficiency. MiladDoueihi (The digital Culture, 2008) and in a recent oral address (Université du Maine, Le Mans, May 2015) emphasizes “a powerful reading culture” that encompasses natural activities of the mind-brain (looking around, viewing, listening, playing..) that were not traditionally seen as “reading” and currently stem from the model and evolutions of games.

So one can see how the new paradigm of reading as a time related and customized activity resorting to multiple visible matter rather than purposefully written material, and implying a variety of reading practitioners, triggers an entirely new set of questions and potential endeavours for publishing industries of today. Eager to understand the market and the characteristics of their customers, they might benefit from the results which the whole range of research on publishing, reading and readership is able to provide about the buyers social (families, roles, status) characteristics and the cultural circumstances that surround them (e.g. as displayed in J. Travnicek surveys presented in Reading Bohemia, Akropolis, Prague, 2015);as well as about theireconomic, technological, political circumstances and their response to the overall marketing mix made available by publishers (as developed in A. Baverstock fifth edition of How to market books, Routledge, 2015).

                                                          Brigitte Ouvry-Vial, Université du Maine, France


MAY 27-29 2015 Le Mans – Workshop ANR P-RECIHC – The Program

Please, find below the program of the Workshop ANR P-RECIHC

MAY 27:

14:00 – 15:30 : Welcome –Membersrecap- Objectives, extantresearch and broadlines of actions (B. Ouvry-Vial)


16:00-18:30 : Databaseissues (1) (S. Towheed, F. Vignale, G. Michelin) SEE DATABASE session schedule

20:00 : Dinner(Takayanagi, le Mans)

MAY 28 :

09:00-10 :30: Database issues (2) (S. Towheed, F. Vignale, G. Michelin)- SEE DATABASE session schedule


10:45-12:30 : Petr Pisa& Michael Wögerbauer- Summary on Europeancensorship issues ; WGS potential issues

 12:30-13:50: Lunch Break (Informal discussion on potentialEuropean Cultures Master Program- F. Laurent ; S. Servoise);

14:00-16:00: Thematicsession(1)Reading as Playing–Case studies(F. Orestano ; N. Esposito ; MacuArmedillo)


16:30-18:00 : Thematic session (2)- Reading as Playing/ Gaming- Keynote(MiladDoueihi) and discussion

19:00 : Dinner (Takayanagi, Le Mans)

MAY 29 :

09:00-10:30: H2020 criteria and demands (A. Sonntag)  Guest-case study- Otherfundingpossibilities


10:45-11:30 : WG meetings or potential issues (adjacent lecture rooms, groundfloor)

General Planning

11:40-12:30ClosingReception- Vice-Pdt for International Relations – CieLBldg on Campus

The main objectives of the meeting are:

–          Reviewthe Action’s 2 main objectives (cf.submission file)

–          Assess a framework of collaboration (forum Apereo, WGs, Regionalclusters…)

–          IdentifyERC & National relevant extantresearch&research programs

–          Pinpoint relevant scientific and societalfocuses;

–          Planifycontributions to the Database and activitiesdirectlyrelated to the objectives.