2018 – Margaret Mackey – 11th Harold Rosen Lecture
DARE and LATE (London Association for the Teaching of English) co-organised the Harold Rosen Memorial Lecture, given by Margaret Mackey on Wednesday 21 March 2018.
Her lecture, entitled ‘Readers in Training and the Surveilled Imagination’, focused on the goal of education to equip children to savour the pleasures of “private reading.” However, her lecture revealed that the privacy of digital reading is not secure. She gave examples that demonstrated the breadth of incursion into behaviours that were recently completely internal, even secret: the commercial use of algorithms to observe personal text selection in order to recommend further choices, the option for instructor oversight of student reading activities in university class modules, and outright surveillance of children’s behaviours from within the texts of their classroom reading scheme. Mackey’s lecture teased out the implications of such encroachments for our tacit and explicit understanding of what “private reading” involves, asking in what ways these changes matter. In light of the revelation only days before the lecture of the mining of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica for political ends, Mackey’s was particularly timely in asking the audience to ponder the line between nonchalance and paranoia when it comes to the surveillance of personal reading.
Margaret Mackey is Professor Emerita at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta in Canada. She researches and teaches in the area of print, media, and digital literacies. Her most recent book, One Child Reading: My Auto-Bibliography (2016), was recently declared the Scholarly and Academic Book of the Year by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta.