RECONSTRUCTING THE HISTORY OF READING. ENGLISH-LANGUAGE STUDIES DEVOTED TO THE HISTORY OF READING (1992–2011)
The article examines twelve English-language studies concerning the history of reading in Western countries, studies published over the last twenty years. They include monographs, historical overviews, anthologies as well as new research proposals. William St Clair’s monograph presents the changes in the reading culture in Britain in the Romantic period resulting from changes in books prices (caused by changes in copyright and printing techniques). H.J. Jackson examines marginalia of readers from the Romantic period; Andrew Murphy — reception of Shakespeare’s works among English workers and craftsmen in the 19th century; Mary Hammond and Joseph McAleer reveal the inside story of the activity of some publishers publishing works for a wide public. The authors of these new works call for, among others, reconstructions of ideologies related to reading and sale of books, as well as analyses and interpretations of the so-called paratexts (book covers, illustrations, formats, being part of a series, marketing and advertising strategies of publishers), which affect the way books are read.
The present author focuses primarily on the information content of selected publications, trying to reconstruct an outline of the history of reading in Western culture from Antiquity until the 1950s.