Professor David J Chalcraft
Department of Sociology, Liverpool John Moores University, UK
Making use of perspectives from the sociology of mobility–the study of the movement of ideas, goods and objects and people across time and space–the lecture explores what kinds of historical, hermeneutical and explanatory connections might be made between the ways in which readers journey through texts, the now smaller and now larger material forms of the text itself and how it is distributed and transmitted, and the modes of mobility dominant in the social context of the reader and the material artefact of the text.
For example, does ‘walking with God’ have most resonance in a culture where walking is the hegemonic form of movement in the society and where a reader can gradually take a walking pace and route through the entire text, exploring all ‘highways and by-ways’? What are the consequences of the ontology of movement for the mode of literacy and for routes through texts? How are texts transported and carried from one place to another? What are the factors that encourage a text to reduce in physical size and breadth of content, and what factors encourage expansion and commentary? What advances in the technology of the production and transmission of texts interact with reading and travelling habits in day to day life?
Comparing instances across time and space of the variety of modes of movement, modes of reading, and material forms of texts can lead, it is hoped, to generalizations and also to illuminate particular bodies of textual tradition (in both ancient and more modern times, from the Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, tefillin, Daily Bible Study, to bite-size Bible sandwich boards in the modern city) and their interpretation and significance.