The Social Life of Books

The Social Life of Books with Professor Abigail Williams: watch the event live on the TORCH YouTube channel at 5pm on 30 April 2020.

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.

This online event is part of TORCH's Big Tent! Big Ideas! series – a programme of interdisciplinary research-fuelled live events taking place as part of the TORCH Goes Digital 2020 series. Big Tent! Big Ideas! brings world-leading Humanities researchers at the University of Oxford into conversation with one another to tackle the biggest questions of our day through the lens of their academic research. 

Visit the TORCH website for further details.

The series of events will be available via TORCH's YouTube channel.