Danger! Women Reading

Session Convenor

Victoria Horne, Northumbria University in Newcastle victoria.horne@northumbria.ac.uk

Session Abstract

Throughout history, the figure of the woman reader has been viewed as potentially subversive or dangerous, ‘a threat to domestic order’ (Long, 2004). She’s a thrillingly ambiguous figure who has captured the attention of numerous artists over centuries (Bollmann 2016). The significance of women’s periodical culture within first- and second-wave struggles has been addressed by literary theorists (Bazin and Waters ed., 2017), as have the histories of reading groups (Long 2004), independent bookshops (Delap 2016) and feminist publishers (Murray 2000) – and yet, despite reading’s crucial importance to the art historical discipline, little attention has been devoted to understanding the function of book groups and publishing circles as systems of knowledge mediation in feminist art history. This panel seeks to redress this omission by considering how para-institutional practices associated with libraries, bookshops, reading groups, and publishing collectives – particularly, but not exclusively, prior to the recognition of feminist discourse within the academy – empowered women as readers and writers of art history and theory.

The subject and practices of reading have surfaced with surprising intensity in contemporary art, perhaps most visibly in the near-ubiquitous space of the gallery reading room. ‘The Age of Print’, Hayles (2012) suggests, ‘is passing, and the assumptions, presuppositions, and practices associated with it are now becoming visible as media-specific practices rather than the largely invisible status quo.’

As this cultural shift from print to digital paradigms transpires, it is important not to neglect the gendered dimension of reading, both historically and contemporarily. As such, this panel invites papers on the following possible topics: women’s reading groups; feminist publications, including circulation and reception histories; art historical representations of women reading; periodical networks; libraries and access; erotics and pleasures of reading; relations between reading and looking; reading subversively.

To offer a paper
Please email your paper proposals direct to the session convenor, details above.

Provide a title and abstract (250 words maximum) for a 25-minute paper (unless otherwise specified), your name and institutional affiliation (if any).

Please make sure the title is concise and reflects the contents of the paper because it will appear online, in social media and in the printed programme.

You should receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your submission within two weeks from the session convenor.

Deadline for submissions: Monday 5 November 2018

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