Engaging library-goers in literary conversation

A discussion that rarely happens in public libraries is seeing English PhD candidate Todd Dearing talk about literature with every-day readers at local council libraries.

‘Why Read Novels?’ was the topic of his recent talk at the Unley Library, where he engaged an inquisitive and varied audience of the library’s book club members.

Mr Dearing said the talk was mutually beneficial, with attendees approaching him after the talk with many thoughtful questions “which led me to think in new ways about my own research.”

His talk explored the role of narrative, imagination, and concepts of truth in reading fiction, while drawing from a 2017 study, Reading the reader: A survey of Australian reading habits (by Throsby and team).

As a by-product of his doctorate research on the Romantic poet and painter William Blake, Mr Dearing is taking current ideas in literary studies, the philosophy of literature, and literature and cognition and bringing them to the general reader.

“My aim in the early stages of this project is to create discussion across the gap between academic literary studies and the experience of the everyday reader of literature,” he says.

“I am interested in better understanding the value of literature among the public, as well as how more complex ideas in literary studies can be communicated with this public.”

Mr Dearing is planning additional public talks on literature for the future, including a presentation at Marion Library on Library Lovers’ Day (Valentine’s Day, 14 February 2019).

He can be contacted by email for anyone wanting more information on his talks.

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