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Recycled Paper: Readers' Scrap-Books in Late Georgian Literary Culture

Recycled Paper: Readers' Scrap-Books in Late Georgian Literary Culture
91 Charles St. West, room VC112
Time: Mar 22nd, 4:15 pm End: Mar 22nd, 6:00 pm
Interest Categories: Women & Gender Studies (FAS), Information, Faculty of, English and Drama (UTM), English (UTSC), English (FAS), Critical Theory, Comparative Literature (FAS), Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (UTM), Book History/Print Culture, 1800-1900
Lecture by Deidre Lynch, Chancellor Jackman Professor of English, University of Toronto

The Toronto Centre for the Book in association with Friends of Victoria College Library present:

Deidre Lynch, Chancellor Jackman Professor of English, University of Toronto

Recycled Paper: Readers' Scrap-books in Late Georgian Literary Culture

Early nineteenth-century literary culture in Britain depended to a remarkable extent on readers' practices of excerpting, clipping, and pasting, and redrafting, recontextualizing, and recycling: practices that would seem alien to literate individuals' standard definitions of the act of reading, except that recently our interactions with the reading materials of the Internet have made them newly familiar. To ponder the historical changeability of our definitions of literary appreciation, this paper surveys the scrapbooks created by leisure-class girls and women: a collection of hand-made, personalized anthologies of quotable quotes, riddles, and poetic beauties, which also functioned as an exhibition-space for polite female accomplishments such as botanizing, flower-painting, and fern-pressing. In the context defined by early-nineteenth-century women's scrap-booking, the retranscription of literary texts to fit new contexts was an important part of the reading process: that these readers read with pencil and scissors at hand challenges historicist accounts of reading as acculturation. In this context, too, literary appreciation was a forum for sociability and social rivalry, in ways that challenge accounts of reading as a solitary, private process. “Recycled Paper” also looks to these scrap-books for how they might illuminate the love of literature: the labours with pen, paintbrush, scissors, and paste that created these albums also converted books by authors into love tokens to authors--votive offerings to a canon of authorial saints.

Deidre Lynch is Chancellor Jackman Professor of the Arts and an associate professor in the Department of English. With the support of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Humanities Center (in the United States) and, most recently, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, she has published widely on the theory and history of the novel and on the literature, information cultures, and book history of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. She is the author of The Economy of Character: Novels, Market Culture and the Business of Inner Meaning (1998; winner of the 1999 Modern Language Association Prize for a First Book): a study that treats the “inward” turn of the novel and the attendant “rounding” of novelistic character as events in the history of reading and the history of consumer society. Her other books include (as co-editor, with William B. Warner) Cultural Institutions of the Novel (1996) and (as editor) Janeites: Austen’s Disciples and Devotees. She is a contributor to the Cambridge Companion to Fiction in the Romantic Period, the Cambridge History of English Romantic Literature, the Cambridge Companion to Daniel Defoe, the Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley, the Blackwell Companion to Jane Austen, and many other anthologies and handbooks.  Professor Lynch is also active as an editor and anthologist, having prepared editions of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman (a Norton Critical Edition, 2009), Jane Austen’s Persuasion (Oxford World’s Classics, 2004), and, with Jack Stillinger, the Romantic-period volume of The Norton Anthology of English Literature (2006). She is currently completing At Home in English: A Cultural History of the Love of Literature, which engages the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century prehistory of English studies in order to give a new account of the state of the discipline and the state of our literary affections. This book sets out to bring poetics, book history, and the history of aesthetics together with the histories of psychology, sexuality, and the family, in order to trace the particular redefinitions of literary experience – and of the interior spaces of the mind and home – that had to occur in order for the love of literature to become part of English studies’ “normal science.”


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