Special issue of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century (forthcoming 2014)

James Emmott (Birkbeck) and Tom F. Wright (Sussex) are co-editing Orality and Literacy, a special issue of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, which will appear in Spring 2014. The issue draws on contributions to a series of events on the theme that took place in London between January and June 2012, and also features newly commissioned essays from additional contributors.


The series of events in 2012, co-convened by James Emmott and Tom F. Wright, marked the thirtieth anniversary of Walter Ong’s influential Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. In the Spring term 2012 series of the London Nineteenth-Century Studies Seminar at the Institute of English Studies, over three days in January, February, and March, speakers explored a range of issues relating to the interactions between voice and text in the Anglo-American long nineteenth century: philology and acoustic nostalgia, melody and poetic form, laughter, and more. An extra session took place in June under the auspices of the Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies and the Material Texts Network.

The first three sessions took place in Room G37 (Ground Floor), Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU. The fourth session took place in the Keynes Library (Room 114), School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD.

Saturday 14 January, 11:00–13:00

Herbert Tucker (Virginia): ‘Unsettled Score: Structure and Play in Browning’s “A Toccata of Galuppi’s”’ (Abstract)
William Abberley (Exeter): ‘Voices of Nature: The Oral Past in Victorian Historical Fiction’ (Abstract)

Saturday 25 February, 11:00–13:00

Matthew Bevis (Oxford): ‘Poetry for Laughs’ (Abstract)
Louise Lee (KCL): ‘Shattered Articulations: Darwin’s Evolutionary Jokes and the Deferral of Cognition’ (Abstract)

Saturday 17 March, 11:00–17:00 — extended final day

Session 1
James Mussell (Birmingham): ‘“Scarers in Print”: Literacy and Media Practice from Our Mutual Friend to Friend Me on Facebook’
Bob Nicholson (Manchester): ‘“Goodbye, old fellow, I must skedaddle!”: Reading the American Voice in the Late-Victorian Press’

Session 2
Claire Potter (U Paris Diderot): ‘The Weight of the Voice/The Slant of the Word: Circulations of Melancholia in Hardy’
Roisin Quinn-Lautrefin (U Paris Diderot): ‘Giving Utterance: Mary Barton and the Language of the Working Class’
Mary L. Shannon (KCL): ‘Spoken Word and Printed Page: G. W. M. Reynolds and the London Riots, 1848’

Final Session
Sandra M. Gustafson (Notre Dame): ‘Orality and Literacy in Transatlantic Perspective’

Thursday 7 June, 18:00–21:00 — extra session

Garrett Stewart (Iowa): ‘Secondary Vocality’ (Abstract)
Matthew Rubery (QMUL): ‘Phonographically Cultivated’ (Abstract)


Click here for abstracts and here for links to speaker profiles.

This website will continue to be updated with further information.

This series was kindly supported by Birkbeck’s Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, and by the British Association for American Studies.