Un/Disciplining Reading

Porscha Fermanis's picture
Call for Papers
September 15, 2023 to September 16, 2023
Ireland {Republic}
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Intellectual History, Literature, Social History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

CFP: Un/Disciplining Reading        

Dublin, 15-16 September 2023

Keynote speaker: Prof. Christina Lupton (University of Warwick/ University of Copenhagen) - ‘When Your Job is to Read After Work: Novels and their Critics since 1800’

Even in its most disinterested and leisurely form, reading is not a natural or neutral practice. As Michael Warner reminds us in The Letters of the Republic (1990), the ‘linguistic technologies’ of ‘speaking, reading, writing, and printing’ are never ‘unmediated by such forms of domination as race, gender, and status’. At the same time, as Christina Lupton has shown in Reading and the Making of Time (2018), reading can cut across homogenous empty time, work-discipline, and the temporalities of commodity capitalism in a nonlinear fashion. Reading can therefore act both as a mode of discipline and as a potentially radical practice, unmoored from the clock and calendar.

This symposium on ‘Un/Disciplining Reading’ at University College Dublin invites colleagues working on any century, language, or cultural space to think about reading as a practice with both disciplinary modes and ways of encouraging the possibility of radical change. It encourages colleagues, too, to think about the history of reading as a discipline and the ways in which we might ‘undiscipline’ it, including new modes and methods of research and ways of rethinking and unmaking the field. In 2004, Leah Price characterised the history of reading as a field without consensus, one that ‘still looks less like a field than a battleground’ (‘Reading: The State of the Discipline’). This conference aims to engage with that view via new and emerging work in the field.

Areas of interest include but are not limited to:

  • reading spaces from the home to the prison
  • institutions of reading (schools, libraries, learned societies etc)
  • readers and reading agents (critics, translators, booksellers etc)
  • reading publics and counterpublics
  • reading and value/cultural capital
  • reading, class, labour, and work-discipline
  • reading as work and/or leisure
  • reading and race
  • reading and empire
  • reading and nationalism
  • colonial, anti-colonial, and postcolonial reading practices
  • the relationship between reading, appreciation, and criticism
  • reading and literacy
  • alternative forms of reading (aurality/aural literacy, braille text etc)
  • reading and disability
  • reading and censorship
  • queer reading
  • gendered reading
  • temporalities of reading/ reading and time/ seriality
  • reading, media, and electronic texts
  • pandemic and lockdown reading
  • reading and futurity
  • the history of reading as discipline
  • ‘undisciplining’ the history of reading

Proposals of 250 words for twenty-minute papers should be submitted to both conference organisers by 24 March 2023: sarah.comyn@ucd.ie and porscha.fermanis@ucd.ie. Notifications of acceptance will be sent in April 2023.

As part of the 'Thresholds of Knowledge' research strand, this symposium is generously supported by the UCD College of Arts and Humanities and the UCD Humanities Institute. There will therefore be no registration or catering fee for participants. Some small travel grants will be available for early career researchers and unwaged scholars. Anyone not in full-time, permanent academic employment is welcome to apply for these. Please note your interest in a grant in your proposal and attach a cv.

Contact Info: 

Porscha Fermanis 

UCD School of English, Drama and Film

University College Dublin

Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

Contact Email: