About reading seen as a Commons

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May, 2019

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Cultural Heritage of reading Produsage Print and Digital book studies African readership New Commons research

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Reading--Study and teaching

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Brigitte Ouvry-Vial, « About reading seen as a Commons », Hyper Article en Ligne - Sciences de l'Homme et de la Société, ID : 10670/1.4dyxbt


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Abstract En

The purpose of this article is to suggest that reading can be understood as a potential 'Commons', e.g. at the very least a shared and deep sense of inhabiting, with other readers, a common domain afforded by literature or books at large. The article traverses the field of existing literature on historical and contemporary reading practice, combining previous findings in Book History with the emerging field of digital writing and reading studies in order to find points of commonalities reconnecting current digital practices with the long history of print modes. Recent technological changes are thus put into perspective, while the discussion suggests that the social imagery, as well as the societal impact attached to reading, makes it akin to a sort of Knowledge Commons. The latter part of the essay presents a brief survey of the reading habits of two small groups of African students and brings it into dialogue with occidental reading standards such as those exhibited in a North American newspaper's literary column. This case study generates reflections on the possible differences in opportunities offered to potential readers from different communities and examines whether standards that are widely accepted and taken for granted by an occidental community of readers can be considered as equally common to or fully shared by another community such as the African students surveyed on the topic.

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