Report on First Meeting/Workshop for the Digital Reading Network held at Bournemouth University, 11 September, 2013
As this was the first meeting of the network, a substantial portion of the day was devoted to introductions and to matters of housekeeping. For financial and practical reasons, the meeting was limited to steering group members, but in future we plan to open up the workshops to all network members, and invite external participants and speakers.
As several colleagues were unable to attend in person, we decided to trial Google hangout. This proved somewhat problematic and so we decided to resort instead to instant messaging, with Julia helping to bridge discussions between networkers at BU and those joining in remotely.
During the morning session we discussed the timetable for the project, including the following upcoming events (dates yet to be finalised)
Dec 2013 – Public engagement event at Bournemouth. This will include representatives from local book clubs, literary societies, libraries and schools and colleges
February/March 2014 – Workshop 2 at Sheffield Hallam University ‘Readers as Data: Exploring Digital Tools for the Analysis of Online Reading Communities.’ Daniel Allington and Andrew Salway have kindly offered to lead this workshop.
June 2014 – Digital Reading Symposium at Bournemouth University. This will feature papers by network members, as well as posters, exhibits and workshops. We discussed possible keynotes and speakers from outside the network, but a consensus emerged that for the first symposium perhaps the focus should be on consolidating the network and allowing network members to take part.
September 2014 – Workshop 3 at Bournemouth University. ‘Engaging Readers’. This workshop will involve participation from teachers and students of English, and will focus on how we may draw on the resources on reading and writing available online in our classrooms.
December/January 2014/2015 – Public engagement event in London. This will involve stakeholders from the creative industries and the public sector and will act as a wrap-up event for the network.
The morning session also included discussion of how best to make use of existing resources (especially the website). We propose to set up a monthly guest blog/ rota of curatorship where members of the network will take it in turn to host discussions on relevant topics, using a variety of media and formats. These could include captured debates via instant chat, guest blogs, interviews, podcasts and so on. Among the themes proposed on the day were ethics, reading spaces, reading as performance, sharing reading, moral panics about reading and the language of reading.
The workshop in the afternoon provided an opportunity for network members to share their current research interests and their hopes and expectations for the network going forward. This allowed us to begin to identify areas of common interest and to discuss the ways in which the network might evolve.
At both sessions we discussed the range of approaches and methodologies that the network currently encompasses, seeing this as one of its strengths. These included linguistic/stylistic approaches (particularly corpus and cognitive stylistics), digital humanities tools and methods (particularly visualization and social network analysis), empirical and psychological studies as well as ethnographic and sociological methods.
The expectation is that subgroups or clusters may emerge within the network, based on specific points of interest, but that we will also continue to consolidate the network so that it provides a unique focal point and hub for the exploration and investigation of the ongoing impact of digitisation on readers and reading. There was a strong feeling amongst participants that we should be responsive to the vast changes taking place, and critical of some of the rhetoric that can accompany those changes.
Watch this space for updates and reports on upcoming events!