Katherine Nesbit, assistant professor of English at Central College, has been awarded a Bibliographical Society of America Fellowship to help fund a one-month research trip to archives in England containing early talking books. She’ll take her research trip after it becomes safe and legal to travel internationally again following COVID-19 restrictions currently in place.
Her work there will inform her forthcoming book “Listening to Books: Reading Aloud and the Novel, 1800-1935.” Nesbit writes that “Victorian … proponents of mass literacy recommended reading aloud as a safe mode of encountering text for the century’s so-called ‘new readers:’ women, children and workers. Household reading distracted the working man from the drink and radical politics tempting him at the pub; allowed parents to censor their children’s reading material; and prevented women from poring over novels alone, thus neglecting the duties of hearth and home.”
She adds, “I plan to listen to and analyze the first audio-recorded novels in Britain in order to learn more about precisely what recorded books inherit from their predecessor: books read aloud in the family circle.”
Nesbit earned a bachelor’s degree from Saint Olaf College in Minnesota and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from University of Iowa. She teaches courses in 19th- and 20th-century British and world literature, as well as sound and media studies.
Nesbit’s research focuses on the politics of listening and the voice. Her scholarship has been published in “ELH,” “Victorian Poetry,” “European Romantic Review,” “Studies in the Novel” and the “Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies.”
The Bibliographical Society of America is dedicated to the study of books and manuscripts as physical objects. It publishes of books and the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America (PBSA), North America’s leading bibliographical journal. Its membership includes bibliographers, librarians, professors, students, booksellers and collectors worldwide.