The Book as Cure: Bibliotherapy and Literary Caregiving from the First World War to the Present

Edmund King's picture
September 14, 2018
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Literature, Library and Information Science, Military History, Cultural History / Studies, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

This one-day conference, part of the annual programme of the History of Books and Reading (HOBAR) research collaboration at The Open University, will take place in the Gordon Room, Senate House, University of London, on 14 September 2018. It brings together early career researchers and advanced scholars with practitioners, policy makers, charities, and representatives from the culture and heritage industries to foster an interdisciplinary dialogue about the curative power of reading during and after the war. What is the legacy of wartime bibliotherapy? How is that curative power understood now? How was it understood in 1914? How has it been managed since in the voluntary sector and in institutions? In what ways does the legacy of First World War bibliotherapy remain active in contemporary policy-making in the charity sector, and in work with veterans and settled refugees?

Keynote speakers: 

Jane Potter (Oxford Brookes University)

Peter Leese (University of Copenhagen)

Led by three members of The Open University’s Department of English & Creative Writing, Siobhan Campbell, Sara Haslam, and Edmund King, this event will contribute to and shape understanding of the therapeutic importance of books across disciplines and help to generate further focused research in the Humanities and beyond.

Proposals of 300 words for 20-minute papers by Friday, 4 May 2018 are welcomed from PhD students, ECRs and established scholars working in the field. Topics include: the healing book; creative and expressive writing interventions; reading, writing and trauma; authorbased studies on literary caregiving of any type; hospital, prison, and asylum reading/libraries and mental health/wellness; curating generative archives; documenting resilience and identifying outcomes.

Contact Info: 

Please send abstracts to the conference organisers:;; and

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