CFP: Books, Readers and Reading Back

Books, Readers, and Reading: Celebrating 250 Years of the Leeds Library

To celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Leeds Library (, the Library, together with the three universities in Leeds, is hosting an international conference on the History of Books, of Readers and of Reading from Thursday 20 to Saturday 22 September 2018.

Confirmed keynote speakers are:

Professor Kate Flint (University of Southern California) Professor Ian Gadd (Bath Spa University) Professor N. Katherine Hayles (Duke University)

Proposals are invited for papers covering but not limited to the following topics:

Libraries: both subscription/private and public, their history, architecture, contents and practices (eg acquisitions, cataloguing), and their representation in the cultural imagination;

The history of books: printing and publishing, including e.g. publishing and printing firms and technologies, publication modes and methods (e.g. the serial, periodicals etc), publisher/editor/author relations, sales and marketing and the business of the book;

The material production and culture of book: including paper, typesetting and fonts, textual apparatus (e.g frontispieces, prefaces, marginalia, footnotes), book-binding, illustration, and conservation and restoration of books;

The history of reading and readers: including e.g. issues of gender, ethnicity, and class, library members and reading practices, reading groups, reader reception, readers’ uses of their reading, and cultural representations of the reader and reading.

Literary forms and genres: particularly those well-represented in the Leeds Library itself, such as Victorian popular fiction, travel literature, and history;

The future of the book and the library: including e.g. the impact of new technologies and means of accessing and using texts (eg digitisation, kindles), emerging genres of reading and writing (e.g. blogging), and new book spaces and places.

Proposals of c. 300 words, word-processed and accompanied by a 50 word biography, should be submitted by Friday 16 February 2018 at:

Proposals for panels of three related papers are also accepted, with a designated chair.

About the Leeds Library

The Leeds Library is the oldest surviving proprietary subscription library in the British Isles. It was founded in 1768 by 104 local inhabitants, the most famous of whom was Joseph Priestley, who became the first secretary of the Library. Since 1808 the Library has been located in Commercial Street in the very heart of the city centre, occupying a magnificent Grade II* building. The collections contain around 150,000 books and periodicals, including some of the original works purchased in 1768, and are particularly rich in travel, topography, biography, history and literature. There are popular novels, children’s books, Civil War pamphlets, Reformation tracts, and long runs of periodicals. About 1,500 new books and audio / visual items are added every year and a large proportion of the Library’s holdings are available for loan to its members. The collections attract researchers from far and wide. The Library became a charity in 2008 and will be celebrating its 250th anniversary in 2018.