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Whose Book Is it Anyway?

Anne McElvoy and her guests explore the rise of reading in Britain, from the monasteries to the political pamphlet war to the rise of 'middle-brow' and niche publishing.

Anne McElvoy explores some historic tussles over who read what, when, how and why. Bodleian scholar Dennis Duncan reveals how disputatious monks took the book out of the monastery; the novelist and New Generation Thinker Sophie Coulombeau uncovers public frothing over political pamphlet reading in pubs in the 18th century; 19th century literature expert Katie McGettigan celebrates a loophole in copyright law which resulted in American literature dominating British bookshelves; Katherine Cooper from Newcastle and another New Generation Thinker reveals the role of women in expanding the horizons of literature in the 20th century and Matthew Rubery, author of The Untold Story of the Talking Book, reflects on the way technology spread reading across society and he gives us a demonstration of the Optophone - an early machine to bring books to the blind.

Pres: Anne McElvoy
Guests: Katherine Cooper, University of Newcastle
Sophie Coulombeau, University of York; author of 'Rites'
Dennis Duncan, The Bodleian Centre for the Study of the Book
Katie McGettigan, Royal Holloway University, London
Matthew Rubery, Queen Mary University, London; author of 'The Untold Story of the Talking Book' forthcoming

The Optophone appears courtesy of Blind Veterans UK.
New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to find academics who can turn their research into radio programmes.
You can find more programmes in the BBC #LoveToRead campaign http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04b5zz8/members
And hear more over the #LovetoRead weekend 5-6 November.

(Image: Close-up of an Optophone - an early 20th century device which uses sound to enable visually impaired people to read).

Available now

45 minutes

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Anne McElvoy
Interviewed Guest Dennis Duncan
Interviewed Guest Sophie Coulombeau
Interviewed Guest Katie McGettigan
Interviewed Guest Katherine Cooper
Interviewed Guest Matt Rubery
Producer Jacqueline Smith

Broadcast

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