Literature and Publishing history: interfaces in teaching and research

Clare Lees 2MMUe

Book History, Publishing Studies and Digital Approaches to English Studies 2
Organiser: The Institute of English Studies, University of London

Chair: Dr Andrew Nash (Reader in Book History and Director of the London Rare Books School, Institute of English Studies)

Publishing studies has been provocatively described by Simone Murray (2005) as ‘research in search of a discipline’. As courses in this area increase in number and popularity, what is the role of publishing studies and publishing history within English studies? What are the interfaces between literature and publishing in teaching and research, and what can a study of the methodological approaches used in the fields of book and publishing history offer English studies now? This panel will offer three perspectives on these questions, examining the interfaces between literature and publishing history in relation to archival research, education publishing, and translation studies. It seeks to show publishing history, with its focus on material objects and archival sources, offers special opportunities to enhance research-based teaching and learning; how publishing decisions influence canon-formation and educational practice; and how understanding the global nature of the book can help broaden the scope of our subject.

Bringing publishers’ archives into the literature classroom (Dr Nicola Wilson)

Associate Professor in Book and Publishing Studies, University of Reading
Undergraduate students have not generally been exposed to the excitement and challenges of working with archives and special collections, but this is where they can really begin to understand the intellectual value and benefit of undertaking original research. This talk will reflect on efforts at the University of Reading to bring publishing history into the literature classroom through the creation of a third-year module entitled Publishing Cultures: Writers, Publics, Archives. The module builds hands-on archival work into classroom teaching each week, and requires students to engage closely with and re-make archival documents as part of their assessment. Looking more broadly across the sector, the talk will consider the role of publishing studies within English studies, and consider what it can add to our students’ degree programmes.

Literature, publishing and education (Dr Gail Low)

Senior Lecturer in English, University of Dundee

This paper begins with some reflections on the interface between educational and trade/literary publishing, starting with a series of simple questions about publishers series such as Penguin Classics, Virago Classics, the African Writers Series, and Canongate Classics. The paper will ask: what is a classic, whose classics, what makes a classic, and what are the function of classics in the context of English studies? In responding to these questions, the paper will focus on Canongate Classics as a publisher’s series, exploring the role of the Scottish Arts Council in funding the publication of the series, and the interface between educational and literary/trade publishing in the construction of tradition and the creation of cultural capital.

Literature, publishing and translation studies (Michelle Milan)

Marie Curie Fellow, Institute of English Studies, University of London

The significance of translation to English literary studies and book history is still a relatively understudied topic of interdisciplinary inquiry. Scholars have noted that while translators have played a key role in the transnational circulation of texts and the reading of literatures written in other languages their role has been marginalised in the creation of literary histories. This paper will examine the production of English translated texts in nineteenth-century Britain and Ireland focusing on translator-publisher relations and the transactions surrounding translation. Drawing on evidence in publishers’ archives, the study sheds light on this largely hidden area of English-language authorship by discussing the legal and material aspects of nineteenth-century translation, particularly translators’ remuneration and questions of copyright.

Sat 12:45 pm - 2:00 pm