The Real Future of Reading


Rick Rylance, Institute of English Studies

Phil Davis, University of Liverpool

A recent opinion poll commissioned for the Royal Society of Literature and undertaken by Ipsos-MORI revealed that 70% of the UK population read literature regularly and that people read for many purposes other than recreation. What do non-academic readers do when they read?

This session – live demonstration rather than talk – will feature a shared reading group led by the Liverpool-based out-reach charity The Reader. Working in clinical and social contexts, the organisation promotes the benefits of literary reading to ordinary readers, among them those suffering from social disadvantage or personal struggle. They work in prisons, with the probation service and rehab centres, in clinical contexts and with children and the elderly. Their work brings benefit to thousands.

These reading groups are not conventional book groups who read books in advance and discuss them in terms of opinions: they are live reading, reading out-loud and together, in the effort to use literature as a trigger for dynamic thinking and feeling and to create small communities of genuine connection.

This session will feature ordinary readers carefully reading a poem together. Participants will then speak about their experience of having been in shared reading groups for some time. Convened by Phil Davis and Rick Rylance, there will then be opportunity to discuss issues arising from these kinds of ventures.

Please note: because of the nature of this activity numbers will be limited to 30 on a first come-first served basis.

Friday 7th July, 12.30