Digital Reading Symposium attracts international audience

The AHRC funded Digital Reading Network, led by BU academics Bronwen Thomas and Julia Round, held its first symposium at the EBC in June. The event attracted speakers and participants from countries including the US, Sweden, Norway and Mexico, and brought together academics professionals and practitioners for a stimulating and enjoyable day.

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The first panel of the day focused on ereaders, with papers exploring the phenomenon of used ebooks (Simon Rowberry, University of Winchester) and comparing the reading of ebooks with print texts in Norway (Anne Mangen, Stavanger Univeristy) and Sweden (Torsten Petterson, University of Uppsala).   Anne Mangen also spoke about the EU COST ACTION, E-READ, which she is currently leading, and which features members of the Network.

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The main theme of the event was social reading, and keynote Bob Stein showcased his pioneering digital publishing initiatives including SocialBook which allows readers to interact with one another while reading the same text in real time.  A lively roundtable on social reading brought the day to a close and featured contributions from leading academics researching the history of reading, book clubs and events.

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The day also featured hands-on workshops on data analysis, led by Anouk Lang from the University of Strathclyde, and digital wellbeing, led by BU Visiting Fellow Sue Thomas.  Beth Williamson (University of the Arts) and Dan Goodbrey (University of Hertfordshire) offered fascinating insights into how digitisation can be used to enhance multimodal texts, with papers on artists’ books and sound in digital comics.  Bronwen Thomas and Julia Round presented a paper based on their work exploring online reading communities, featuring interviews with forum moderators, while Marianne Martens (Kent State University) focused on the laws and guidelines affecting websites targeted at young readers in the USA.

The Digital Reading Network continues to attract interest and new members from around the world.  The next event will be held here at BU in October, and the project continues until March 2015. Further details including some of the papers delivered at the symposium can be found on the project website www.digitalreadingnetwork.com.