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PLU’s Professors Solveig Robinson and Peter Grosvenor on National Libraries

Posted by:
February 2, 2016
By Adela Ramos

The English Department’s very own Solveig Robinson recently gave a talk on the project she is co-writing with Peter Grosvenor (PLU) at the University of Greenwhich in the UK. This is how their visit was announced via the University’s webpage:

As is increasingly understood, Britain is not a nation-state but a home to a plurality of national identities, sometimes convergent, other times divergent. All national identities are constructed, and one way in which they are constructed is through the particular cultural institutions, such as libraries and museums, that are erected to represent them. This talk will describe our current research into the role of national libraries in the construction of the national identities found in the British Isles.

The British Museum Library (now British Library) is one of the oldest, largest, and most renowned national libraries in the world. Founded in 1753, it expanded with the British Empire throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But despite its size and grandeur, the BML failed to meet the needs and desires of all Britain’s inhabitants, and individual national libraries were also established in Ireland (1877), Wales (1907), and Scotland (1925). The cultural and political contexts in which the constituent national libraries were created, and the principles that guide their contemporary collection and outreach efforts, offer insights into how the national libraries not only preserve but also help to shape Britain’s constituent national identities.

Solveig C. Robinson is an Associate Professor of English and Director of the Publishing & Printing Arts Program. Her work focuses on nineteenth-century publishing history. Her publications include articles on Victorian women editors, the edited volume A Serious Occupation: Literary Criticism by Victorian Women Writers (Broadview, 2003), and The Book in Society: An Introduction to Print Culture (Broadview, 2013).
Peter C. Grosvenor is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Global Studies. His current teaching interests include the sociology of national identity and the politics of national self-determination. In addition to publishing articles that explore the political engagements of early 20th-century British writers, he is also co-author of Norway’s Peace Policy: Soft Power in a Turbulent World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).