FMC Narrative Research Seminar, Wed, 11th Nov: “She used to get lost in a book”: approaching gendered reading using two archives

Communicating Research
FMC Cross-Departmental Seminar Series 2015-16

Venue: The Screening Room W240, Weymouth House, Talbot Campus,

A BU Narrative Research Group event

Wednesday, 11 November, 4-5pm.

All very welcome as always!

Title: “She used to get lost in a book”: approaching gendered reading using two archives (Memories of Fiction and 100 Families)

Speaker: Dr Shelley Trower and Dr Amy Tooth Murphy (University of Roehampton)

In this talk we will first introduce the Memories of Fiction project, which during 2014-2015 created an oral history archive with members of reading groups who discuss their reading experiences in the context of their life stories. We will then turn to another oral history archive from the 1980s, 100 Families, a very different kind of project which incorporated just a few questions on reading as part of a much broader interest in family life. Using NVivo to analyse the interview transcripts from 100 Families, our collaborative process led us to identify the narration of gendered reading as a key theme, and it is this that our talk will mostly discuss.

Types of reading material (including fiction and newspapers), the ways in which people describe themselves and family members as reading this material, and the value judgements they make, all contribute to a picture of reading within family life as something that often takes place along gendered lines. This gendering of both reading material and the act of reading will be viewed within a historical framework that has consistently constructed reading as highly gendered. Respondents invoke long-standing cultural tropes on the gendered nature of reading, especially involving the historical figure of the female novel-reader, whose reading has tended to be judged as compulsive and escapist, in contrast to the directed, purposeful male reader. 100 Families also helps us to identify a more complex pattern in which family members question the conventional image of the woman reader lost in romance fiction.

About the series
This new seminar series showcases current research across different disciplines and approaches within the Faculty of Media and Communication at BU. The research seminars include invited speakers in the fields of journalism, politics, narrative studies, media, communication and marketing studies. The aim is to celebrate the diversity of research across departments in the faculty and also generate dialogue and discussion between those areas of research.

Contributions include speakers on behalf of
The Centre for Politics and Media
The Centre for the Study of Journalism, Culture and Community
Narrative Research Group
Public Relations Research Group
Advances in Media Management Research Group
Emerging Consumer Cultures Research Group