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The Founding College of the University of Toronto
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W. J. Alexander Lecture in English Literature

Endowed Lecture Series
Current Students
New Students
Students in Residence

The Revolt of the Papers; or Bits and Pieces Toward a Feminist Theory of Scrap

Monday March 11, 2024
4:30 – 6:00 PM EDT (Followed by a reception)
Paul Cadario Conference Centre at Croft Chapter House
University College
15 King’s College Circle, Toronto, ON M5S 3H7

The 2024 Alexander Lecture in English Literature is being held in-person at University College, as well as streaming live online for home viewers. Faculty, students, staff, and the public are cordially invited to this hybrid lecture.


This richly illustrated lecture samples the practices of collecting, excerpting, collaging, and scrapbooking that were a popular female pastime across Britain and even Lower Canada in the 18th and 19th centuries. To 21st-century eyes, the compilations of paper scraps assembled through such practices might look, for better and for worse, like forerunners of today’s junk journals. This lecture, however, recovers from this mode of female handicraft a feminist media theory that, centered on unbound paper, both countered an emerging division between ephemeral print and the bound book and challenged increasingly conventional notions of creativity. For these female amateurs (as likewise for a host of women writers, from the 18th-century English poet Isabella Lickbarrow to contemporary Canadian author Lisa Robertson), to occupy the role of archivist of the ephemeral was to participate in the dynamism of modernity. 

Headshot of Deidre Lynch

Educated at the University of British Columbia and Stanford University, Deidre Lynch is now the Ernest Bernbaum Professor of English Literature at Harvard University. She has published widely on 18th, 19th, and 20th-century British literature, the theory of the novel, the history of reading, and the history of the book. Lynch is the author of The Economy of Character: Novels, Market Culture, and the Business of Inner Meaning (1998), awarded the Modern Language Association Prize for a First Book, and Loving Literature: A Cultural History (2015), short-listed for both the Oscar Kenshur Prize in 18th-century Studies and the Christian Gauss Award for Literary Criticism.

She is currently completing “Paper Slips: A Literary, Media, and Material History of Scrap.” At the start of 2024, the Keats-Shelley Association of America awarded her its Distinguished Scholar Award for lifetime achievement.  

The Alexander Lecture was founded in 1928 in memory of Professor W. J. Alexander, Head of the Department of English at University College from 1889 to 1926.

Contact uc.events@utoronto.ca for more information.

Access the Webinar


  • Welcome by Principal Markus Stock
  • Introduction by Professor Claire Battershill
  • Lecture by Professor Deidre Lynch
  • Audience Q&A moderated by J Hughes
  • In-person reception

Important Notes for Virtual Guests

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