Registration is now open.
This interdisciplinary symposium seeks to expand and enrich our understanding of contemporary literary production. Moving beyond the traditional triumvirate of author, reader and text, we situate today’s fiction within a wider field, encompassing literary agents, editors, book reviewers, writing teachers, prize judges, festival organizers, and more.
‘Books in the Making’ brings some of the key players in the book trade into dialogue with academics from a range of disciplines, including literary and cultural studies, sociology, and the digital humanities. By creating new conversations between these too-often separate spheres, we consider the various ways in which books are made today. The symposium also explores the extent to which the book as a medium is now being ‘remade’ by new formats and technologies. By investigating these processes of making and remaking, we address a question that has not yet been posed systematically: that of the consequences for contemporary writing of ongoing changes in its production and dissemination.
On Thursday 14th April the symposium will open at 6pm with a public event in Lady Mitchell Hall, organised in conjunction with the Cambridge Literary Festival, featuring the best-selling American crime writer Lee Child in conversation with Andy Martin.
On Friday 15th the symposium will feature a plenary address from James English (University of Pennsylvania), author of The Economy of Prestige (2005), along with sessions bringing academics into conversation with publishing professionals to discuss three key aspects of the ‘making’ of contemporary literature:
CREATION: This session expands the concept of literary ‘creation’ to include not just the act of writing, but related activities including the teaching of writing, the role and influence of literary agents, and the shaping of literary categories such as ‘the bestseller’.
PUBLICATION: In this session, academics and members of the book trade consider the impact of current publication processes on contemporary writing. The conversation will involve both corporate and independent presses; print publishers and those whose business models are based upon new technologies.
RECEPTION: This session reconsiders traditional questions of reading, evaluation and interpretation by connecting them to social and institutional contexts including literary festivals, book reviewing and journalism, and literary prizes.
- Michael Bhaskar (Canelo Publishing)
- Rachel Calder (Sayle Literary Agency)
- Stefan Collini (University of Cambridge)
- Antonia Hodgson (Little Brown UK)
- Günter Leypoldt (Heidelberg University)
- Ben Markovits (Royal Holloway, London)
- Cathy Moore (Cambridge Literary Festival)
- John Oakes (OR Books /CUNY Publishing Institute)
- Claire Squires (University of Stirling)
- Jacques Testard (The White Review / Fitzcarraldo Editions)
Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH); the School of Arts and Humanities, University of Cambridge; and in collaboration with the Cambridge Literary Festival.
We are unable to arrange or book accommodation for non-paper giving delegates however, the following websites may be of help:
Administrative assistance: firstname.lastname@example.org
Public Event - Thursday 14 April 2016
Organised in conjunction with the Cambridge Literary Festival, the best-selling American crime writer Lee Child will talk with Andy Martin (Cambridge University) about how he makes his books. Ruth Morse will chair.
This event will take place at Lady Mitchell Hall on the Sidgwick Site.
Symposium - Friday 15 April 2016
|08.45 - 9.15||
Registration and Tea and Coffee.
|9.15 - 11.00||
This session will situate the concept of literary ‘creation’ in an expanded field, encompassing not just writing, but also the teaching of writing, the influence of literary agents (at the manuscript stage and beyond) and the evolution of categories such as the ‘literary novel’.
Chair: Kasia Boddy (University of Cambridge)
|11.00 - 11.30||
Tea and Coffee
|11.30 - 13.15||
Session 2: Publication
This session will take the form of a roundtable discussion between academics and representatives of different areas of the book trade. The impact of current publication processes on contemporary writing will be examined from a variety of perspectives, in a conversation involving both corporate publishers and independent small presses; print publishers and those embracing new technologies and business models.
Chair: Claire Squires (University of Stirling)
|13.15 - 14.15||
|14.15 - 16.00||
Session 3: Reception
This session will reconsider traditional questions of reading, evaluation and interpretation by connecting them to social and institutional contexts including literary festivals, book reviewing and journalism, and prize-giving.
Chair: Stefan Collini (Cambridge University)
|16.00 - 16.30||
Tea and Coffee
|16.30 - 18.00||
James English (University of Pennsylvania): Revisiting the "Great Divide”: The Past, the Future, and the Contemporary Novel