Live Event: The Social Life of Books: A History of Reading Together at Home

"The Social Life of Books" on a shadowy blue, red background with a pair of hands holding up an open book


TORCH Goes Digital! presents a series of weekly live events Big Tent - Live Events!

Reading Week

Part of the Humanities Cultural Programme, one of the founding stones for the future
Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities.


Live Event: Thursday 30th April 2020, 5.00pm-6.00pm

Watch Live Event here


If we were able to step inside the parlours and drawing rooms of the eighteenth century we’d find homes busy with home-made culture – book groups and tea table parties; amateur dramatics; groups of women reading and weeping their way through popular sentimental fiction; children stumbling through poems before their maiden aunts, and men at punch parties singing songs about dogs. We used to read aloud, and we used to do it together, at home. This event, presented by Professor Abigail Williams, gives us a glimpse of that older world of domestic culture and performance, with some thoughts on its revival in the current climate. In a short 'masterclass' with Giles Lewin, Abby will also give some tips on what eighteenth-century reading aloud might have looked and sounded like.


Abigail Williams is Professor of Eighteenth-Century Literature at St Peter's College, University of Oxford. Her monograph on reading aloud, The Social Life of Books was published by Yale in 2017. She is currently working on a book on the history of misreading.

Giles Lewin is a performer and composer, primarily a violinist, specialising in medieval music and the traditional music of Europe and the Middle East.He has written and performed music for theatre and radio, and played on many film and television scores. He is a founder member of the folk band Bellowhead, and the early music groups The Dufay Collective, Alva, and The Carnival Band.


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