Matthew Rubery (Queen Mary, London) will be presenting his paper, ‘How to Read a Talking Book’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 18 March 2014. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.48.
The United States Library of Congress’s Talking Book Service was established in 1934 to provide books for war-blinded soldiers and blind civilians who could not read braille. The first recordings included the Bible, Shakespeare’s plays and best-selling novels. This presentation traces a series of controversies that arose soon afterward among the blind community over the appropriate way to narrate a talking book. Audiences faced a choice between a deliberately understated style that privileged the printed book and a theatrical style that took full advantage of the phonograph’s sound. Such disputes raise fundamental questions about the legitimacy of reading practices among people with visual disabilities and, ultimately, what it means to read a book.
About the speaker
Matthew Rubery is Reader in Nineteenth-Century Literature at Queen Mary University of London. He is author of The Novelty of Newspapers: Victorian Fiction after the Invention of the News (OUP, 2009), editor of Audiobooks, Literature, and Sound Studies (Routledge, 2011), and co-editor of Secret Commissions: An Anthology of Victorian Investigative Journalism (Broadview, 2012). His current project is titled ‘The Untold Story of the Talking Book’.