Reader Experience/Book history task
Due on vUWS by midnight on Sunday 2nd February 2020 (1500 words 40% weighting) Task
will be opened for submissions from 30th January. Be careful that you have checked all your
referencing as SUBMISSION TO TURNITIN IS FINAL.
Robert Darnton1 suggests that by the end of the nineteenth century ‘the world of reading had
been transformed’**. In his article ‘Was there a reading revolution’, Reinhard Wittman
proposes a number of ways in which that transformation began in the eighteenth century
(from intensive to extensive reading practices /the ‘reading mania’/ changing tastes in
reading materials/rise of associational reading practices and institutions, etc.).
Your task for this essay is to choose one topic statement from the suggested list below for
exploring an aspect of this transformation. This is a ‘snapshot’ research task, and you are
limited by a short word limit, but you are expected to be able to illustrate and evidence
your argument with some reference to actual reader experience. You are also expected to
be able to interpret the question/statement for yourself.
**Note that the word ‘transformed’ in the bordered text above suggests a change from a
previous state/circumstance. This means you can use the unit content covered in relation to
earlier periods (in terms of reader practices and the history of the book) as comparative
reference points. And also bear in mind that some unit content might offer ‘negative’
evidence to complicate the statements above (as in the module on censorship)
• You must support your discussion (taking a position on the statement, and
supporting that with an argument) with reference to the relevant lecture pods and
the essential reading for the module/s relevant to your topic, and any compulsory
reading indicated for that question below
• You must effectively use primary source evidence drawn directly from one of the key
online access databases listed in the Readings and Resources section for this task on
vUWS2 (with specific attention to any research database recommended for the
specific topic choice) and/or with primary evidence drawn from the select secondary
Summary criteria (please see the rubric for the expanded, more detailed criteria)
1) ENGAGEMENT with the learning resources (unit readings and lecture pods) relevant to
your chosen question/topic
2) RESEARCH CAPACITY: Effective use primary sources and/or online research tools (such
1 R. Darnton (1990) ‘First Steps Toward a History of Reading’, The kiss of Lamourette: reflections in cultural history.
New York: W.W. Norton, p. 161.
2 These databases/websites includes the U.K. Reader Experience Database; Harvard Views of Readers,
Readership, and Reading History, Eighteenth Century Books Online, the TROVE digitised database of Australian
19th/20th century newspapers; the Aust Federal Book Censorship Database.
as the Reader Experience Database)
3) Quality of written EXPRESSION (spelling, grammar, syntax, words used in correct context)
4) REFERENCING (page numbers provided for all quotes? Proper references provided?
Reference list at end? Authors names spelled correctly?)
Specific topic questions (choose one)
1. By the end of the nineteenth century reading had been transformed, with ‘the
expansion of the reading public’3 and the democratization of reading in terms of class,
gender and age. Discuss. Must use at least TWO of the assessment support sources
for the task listed in Reading Resources (the work of Martin Lyons is particularly
recommended) PLUS evidence from R.E.D.
2. By the end of the nineteenth century reading had been transformed, with ‘the
expansion of the reading public’ and the democratization of reading in terms of
associational institutions and associational reading practices. Discuss. Must use at
least TWO of the assessment support sources for the task listed in Reading Resources
PLUS HARVARD VIEWS OF READERS website and/or R.E.D.
3. By the end of the nineteenth century reading had been transformed, with the
expansion of a popular market for the novel, and the celebrity status of leading
Victorian authors. Discuss. Must use the readings for Module 6 PLUS R.E.D.
4. By the end of the nineteenth century reading had been transformed, as evidenced by
the expanding readership of the newspaper and periodical press. Discuss. Must use
at least TWO of the assessment support sources for the task listed in Reading
Resources PLUS evidence from R.E.D.
5. Censorship has nothing to do with the construction of national reading cultures.
Discuss. Must use Moore (module 8 essential reading) and Moore (2015) in the
Reading Resources on vUWS PLUS EITHER the Banned in Australia Federal Book
Censorship website linked on the Readings and Resources page or one of the web
resources in the ‘researching censorship’ guide on this page
Please note that:
• The Literacy Minimum Standards Level 2/3 apply, and you will automatically fail if
you do not meet the minimum (circumventing the rubric grade)
• This is a Turnitin assignment. Please do not even think about cutting and pasting
material without proper citation and use of quote marks, as that will only end in
• All assessment tasks for the unit need to be submitted for you to pass. If you are
cruising on a raw mark that would get you a pass, the numbers won’t stand unless
BOTH tasks have been submitted for the unit.
3 M. Lyon (1999) ‘New Readers in the Nineteenth Century’, in Cavallo, G., Chartier, R. and Cochrane, L. A
history of reading in the West. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. Available at URL:
http://www.library.illinois.edu/spx/readcult/Blog/Lyons.pdf (quote from pp. 313-314).
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