Textual preferences
: the queer afterlives of childhood reading

  • Sarah Pyke

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Textual Preferences: The Queer Afterlives of Childhood Reading asks how childhood and adolescent reading, and experiences-with-books more broadly, contribute to queer self-fashioning. Drawing on original oral histories gathered from ten UK-based, selfidentified LGBTQ adults born between 1949 and 1981, it maps from memories of books and reading these narrators’ various material and textual investments, affiliations, identifications and practices. In so doing, it establishes a corpus of fourteen texts of particular significance to these narrators, proposing an alternative history of book-use and reading with specific resonance for LGBTQ individuals. Over four chapters, Textual Preferences examines the book as material object and the haptic and bodily aspects of reading; the spaces and places of reading and book culture; the various reading strategies of these ten narrators; and the intersection between books, reading and the strange temporalities of queer experience. Informed by current work in book history, the history of reading and queer studies, it positions oral history as a productive methodology for research in these fields; it additionally intervenes in oral history praxis, arguing that attention to the paraverbal and nonverbal aspects of the interview can reveal much about the relations between the book and the (queer) reading subject. Constituting a rich body of material otherwise at risk of remaining unarticulated and unrecorded, the reading histories and memories on which this study draws form a unique aural and textual archive for future scholarly use, which will be preserved by the University of Roehampton.
    Date of Award16 Apr 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SponsorsArts and Humanities Research Council
    SupervisorAlison Waller (Supervisor) & Shelley Trower (Supervisor)


    • LGBTQ
    • Queer
    • Oral History
    • Children's Literature
    • Histories of Reading
    • Book History
    • Childhood
    • Materiality
    • Books
    • Reading

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