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Projects Affiliated with the Network

A linked group of projects gathering and connecting experiences of reading in Sheffield over the past 300 years. Led by Dr Mary Grover, one of the founders of the Middlebrow Network.

This collection consists of over 1,200 novels published between 1900 and 1950, most in early editions, by 229 different authors. It is important to collect and research these novels because these are what the majority of people read. These novels therefore have the potential to reveal an enormous amount about readerships, attitudes to reading, and cultural life.

A blog has been established for reviews of the books in the collection, which can be accessed here:

An AHRC-funded project which developed directly out of the Middlebrow Network. The site offers information on mainstream Canadian magazines, sample content, bibliographies and visualisations.

A searchable archive for the Middlebrow Network Digest, a monthly newsletter produced by the Network since February 2013, which summarises the latest events, publications, calls for papers and more.

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Research Projects

MEDIATE is an ERC-funded digital humanities project, based at Radboud University in the Netherlands, which seeks to study the circulation of books and ideas in eighteenth-century Europe by drawing on a unique database of eighteenth-century library auction catalogues.

This AHRC and Leverhulme-funded project, developed from Sally Faulkner’s AHRC Fellowship, ‘A New History of Spanish Cinema: Middlebrow Films and Mainstream Audiences’, explores the concept of the middlebrow in Spanish film. It considers how this often derogatory English term, first coined in 1924, translates across cultures (including European, Latin-American and Asian cinemas) and time (from the 1940s to the present day).

This interdisciplinary, transnational research project explores the relationship between musical culture and the middlebrow. Over a three-year period, it will bring together scholars from a range of disciplinary backgrounds in a series of discussion-focused events, with a view to fostering dialogues and facilitating the exchange of ideas.

A British Academy-funded project (2015-) by Faye Hammill, based on research emerging from the Network.

Organised by researchers at the University of Essex and Northumbria University, this AHRC-funded research network investigates how clothes and labour influenced and assisted in the development of professional communities at the turn of the twentieth century.

This centenary project was established to celebrate and make more widely known the remarkable history of the influential feminist magazine Time and Tide. Through a variety of events, and its dedicated website, this project invites present-day audiences to consider the continued relevance of Time and Tide’s history for contemporary female journalistic and publishing practices.

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Societies and Networks

As well as details of events and publications, this site offers access to a major online discography of early recordings and a library of ex-copyright recordings.

The society aims to promote the study and appreciation of Arnold Bennett and related provincial writers, and holds an annual conference.

The aim of this network is to advance education and knowledge by promoting the study of modernism.

The Centre at Edinburgh University was established in 1995 as an international and interdisciplinary centre for advanced research into all aspects of the material culture of the text – its production, circulation, and reception from manuscript to the electronic text.

The Leverhulme Trust funded Network is a partnership between the Universities of Exeter and Kingston (UK), Witwatersrand (South Africa), Hofstra (USA), Griffith (Australia) and the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, and its purpose is to support scholarly activities relating to the cultural life of the suburbs.

The H.G. Wells Society was founded in 1960. It has an international membership, and aims to promote a widespread interest in the life, work and thought of Herbert George Wells. It publishes an annual journal, and issues a biannual newsletter.

The J.B. Priestley Society aims to widen the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Priestley’s literary and other published works and to promote the study of his life and career, and the social, cultural and political forces which influenced him.  The Society publishes an annual journal to which contributions on Priestley or Priestley-related issues are always welcome.

This international organisation has been set up to promote and encourage the worldwide study and enjoyment of Katherine Mansfield’s writing.

Modernist Network Cymru (MoNC) brings together scholars and professionals working on modernism in Wales to encourage better communication and collaboration.

The MSA, an international association founded in the US, is devoted to the study of the arts in their social, political, cultural, and intellectual contexts from the later nineteenth- through the mid-twentieth century.  MSA conferences have included several panels and seminars on middlebrow in recent years. Those at the 2009 conference were organised by the Middlebrow Network.

The Reception Study Society (RSS) promotes exchanges between scholars in reader-response criticism and pedagogy, reception study, history of reading and the book, audience, communication, and media studies. They produce an annual journal and organise a conference every two years.

This is a forum for discussion and exchange between those working on modernism in any discipline. The Network embraces Modernism in its broadest senses. This includes modernity, the avant-garde, the fin-de-siècle, modern and contemporary legacies and historical anticipations.

A global network for book historians, SHARP is concerned with the creation, dissemination, and reception of script and print, including newspapers, periodicals, and ephemera.

The Space Between Society and journal are devoted to interdisciplinary scholarship on the period bracketed by the two World Wars. They are interested in approaches to texts of all kinds, emphasizing research on lesser-known writers and artists and understudied issues of the period, including literary and cultural responses to the First and Second World Wars.

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Archives and Databases

This publisher offers digital access to manuscripts and rare printed sources, including a searchable, full-text version of the Mass Observation archives.

A large database cataloguing information about Victorian authors, titles and publishers.

A comprehensive annotated bibliography of writings that reflect on the culture of celebrity.

An extensive collection of manuscripts, rare books, photographs, artworks, and other materials documenting cultural history and the creative process.

HEARTH is a electronic collection of books and journals in Home Economics and related disciplines published between 1850 and 1950. The full text of these materials, as well as bibliographies and essays on the wide array of subjects relating to Home Economics, are accessible on this site.

The Mass Observation Archive specialises in material about everyday life in Britain. It contains papers generated by the original Mass Observation social research organisation (1937 to early 1950s), and newer material collected continuously since 1981. The Archive is in the care of the University of Sussex and is housed in the Library in Special Collections.

This is a private site run by a magazine enthusiast. It offers an esoteric collection of magazine articles, essays, poetry, cartoons and photographs in PDF form.

Orlando: Women’s Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present is a dynamic textbase of about five and a half million words (subscription is necessary). It includes documents on the lives and writing careers of about a thousand writers, together with a great deal of contextual historical material on relevant subjects, such as the law, economics, science, writing by men, education, medicine, politics.

The Penguin Archive contains the archives of Penguin Books Ltd. from its foundation in 1935 to the 1980s. It includes a wide variety of materials on the establishment and business life of Penguin Books Ltd., as well as social events, legal cases (particularly the Lady Chatterley’s Lover trial of 1960), exhibitions on the company’s history, and the private lives of prominent figures in the early history of the company, including Sir Allen Lane, Eunice Frost and Betty Radice. It also includes a large collection of Penguin books from 1935 to date.

UK RED is an open-access database housed at The Open University containing over 30,000 easily searchable records documenting the history of reading in Britain from 1450 to 1945. Evidence of reading presented in RED is drawn from published and unpublished sources as diverse as diaries, commonplace books, memoirs, sociological surveys, and criminal court and prison records. There are also RED databases in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Netherlands, which can be accessed via the link above.

The Richmal Crompton (1890-1969) Collection comprises books, archives, artefacts and ephemera accumulated during and after the author’s lifetime. It holds various editions of the William stories, a full set of Crompton’s adult fiction, and her personal library. Archives comprise over 70 boxes and range from biographical accounts of the author’s life, including correspondence and photographs, to a very comprehensive account of Crompton’s career as a writer, including jottings and draft scripts, publishers’ correspondence and fan letters.

The Sybil Campbell Collection, held at the University of Winchester, is an esoteric collection of around 8,000 items. The earliest part of the collection was intended to provide young graduates of the 1920s and 1930s with an overview of their world in order to foster international peace and understanding, following the aims of the British Federation of University Women (BFUW), the International Federation of University Women (IFUW). Benefactors include Leonard and Virginia Woolf and members of the Bloomsbury group, Beatrice and Sidney Webb, Harold Laski, Alys and Bertrand Russell, and academics and writers of the their day.

The Victorian Women Writers Project makes available transcriptions of works by British women writers of the 19th century. The works include anthologies, novels, political pamphlets, religious tracts, children’s books, and volumes of poetry and verse drama.

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Media and Blogs

Dean Street Press is a publisher devoted to producing, uncovering, and revitalising good books. The blog focuses on their latest titles and the field of middlebrow literature.

A blog about literature for like-minded book lovers, focusing on the notion of the Book as Experience.

A blog focusing on female writers, specifically those who have received little or no attention from academics, and discussion of the middlebrow in general.

Handheld Press releases stories from the past and the present, and their classics imprint presents forgotten fiction and authors who need to be rediscovered.

A fascinating blog on following the reading list in Arnold Bennett’s Literary Taste and How To Form It (1909; revised and reissued 1937).

A blog featuring articles and lists with thousands of books that have been neglected, overlooked, forgotten, or stranded by changing tides in critical or popular taste.

Persephone Books publishes ‘lost’ or out-of-print books, many of them interwar novels by women that could be considered middlebrow.

This site about the Salford working-class author, Walter Greenwood (1903-1974), aims to explore all of his work, including, but not just limited to Love on the Dole.

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