Scottish Readers Remember
SAPPHIRE has previously explored the history of the book in Scotland from the perspectives of book production and the dissemination of the written word. However, the Scottish Readers Remember project will examine an aspect of book history that to date, has been less well documented in this country – that of reception. The relationship Scots have had with the printed word over the course of the twentieth century is the impetus for this exploration, which will again have at its centre an oral history study. It is intended that testimony from eighty interviewees will provide the first focused attempt to analyse the changing tastes and habits of Scottish readers from diverse parts of the country and different social backgrounds. A further consideration of the analysis will be the contribution that reading practices have had on a sense of collective identity.
The project will interrogate how far Scots formed a common ‘community of readers’, as well as investigating the changes in tastes that occurred over a period that encompassed immense social upheaval but at the same time, increased literacy and a huge proliferation in reading matter. With regard to the latter, the focus of the study will be wide and the relationship readers had with all types of literature from, the literary to the popular, will be examined. This major project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and aims to make an important contribution to the cultural history of modern Scotland. In addition, the study will make a specifically Scottish contribution to the internationally established field of the history of reading reception. Evidence from oral histories will be augmented by other forms of personal testimony which relate to the practise of reading, and along with the archiving of this data, it is anticipated that several publications will result from the study. The Scottish Readers Remember project will continue to establish SAPPHIRE as a resource for scholarship on a multi-disciplinary level.