Visiting Speaker, 4 Apr 2017: Lise Jaillant on Modernism and publishing

Lise Jaillant (Loughborough University) will be presenting her paper, ‘“Modernist” Publishers, Publishers of “Modernism”’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 4 April 2017. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.48, and will be followed by a wine reception.

2016.07.jaillantCommercial publishers are nearly invisible in New Modernist Studies. There is no history of Random House, no history of Harcourt Brace and no history of Faber & Faber. One reason for this invisibility is that commercial firms published a wide range of texts—what we now see as ‘Modernism’ was issued alongside ‘popular’ texts. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Phoenix Library published Wyndham Lewis’s first novel Tarr but also popular novels and even a cookery book. Since difficult ‘Modernist’ texts continue to dominate our understanding of early twentieth-century literature, we tend to neglect these publishing enterprises or to study only the tiny portion of their activities that relates to ‘Modernism’.

This talk will address two points: 1) why so few modernist scholars have studied commercial publishers (unlike Victorianists, who have long been interested in book publishers and their impact on the literary text); 2) what we can do to expand the sub-field of Modernist Print Culture, building on existing work in periodical studies and strengthening our relationship with scholars of book history. In this context, ‘Modernist’ would be synonymous with ‘Early Twentieth Century’ to include all kinds of texts published at that time. The conclusion will present Lise’s digital map of publishers in New York in the 1920s, part of a chapter forthcoming with Cambridge University Press. (more…)

2016/17 Speakers Programme now available

The 2016/17 programme of speakers at the Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research is now available to view on our Events: Speakers Programme page. Talks this session from a range of national and international scholars will explore a variety of subjects, including digital literature, Romantic poetry and eighteenth-century drama, book history and modernism, and postmodern fiction. The talks will be followed by wine reception, and all are welcome!


Rosie Johns, Publishing in the modern era: Introduction

This blog post is the first of a series by Rosie Johns, exploring the challenges and opportunities involved in book publishing in the 21st-century environment.  These posts are being written as part of Rosie’s second project on the Project Management and Research Undergraduate module at Cardiff University.


Reading is a near-essential, and vastly enjoyable, part of our lives.  Humans have been creating written records for thousands of years, from the clay tablets of Mesopotamia (accredited as the earliest form of writing, dating back to 3500 BC) to the hardback and paperback books we are familiar with today.

Since the introduction of the Kindle just over five years ago, eBooks have come to represent a new era in publishing – the digital era.  Books are now able to be published without manual labour, without materials and to a limitless quantity.  Publishing companies have begun, and will continue, to develop vastly different technology to adapt to the new digital demands.

This series of blogs will explore the advantages and limitations of the new digital age of book publishing.  I will provide anecdotal accounts, from a student perspective, of all facets of the publishing industry.  Questionnaires and interviews with professionals from all sectors of the publishing industry will be drawn upon to produce a one-of-a-kind resource, which I hope will be far removed from the detached observations made by other blogs, newspapers and studies.

Publishing is a field greatly affected by digital advancement, and the question of what the future holds for book publishing is one that I am keenly interested in, both on an intellectual and personal level.  This blog series seeks to give a detailed and accurate account into publishing and provide answers to questions of interest, regardless of whether (like me) you aspire to enter the field of publishing, or are simply curious about books and how they are produced.

Visiting speaker, 24 Apr 2012: John B Thompson on trade publishing in the present day

John B. Thompson will be presenting his paper, ‘Merchants of Culture’, at 5.15pm on Tuesday, 24 April 2012. The talk will take place in the Cardiff Humanities Building, Room 2.48.

These are turbulent times in the world of book publishing. For nearly five centuries the methods and practices of book publishing remained largely unchanged, but at the dawn of the twenty-first century the industry finds itself faced with perhaps the greatest challenges since Gutenberg. A combination of economic pressures and technological change is forcing publishers to alter their practices and think hard about the future of books in the digital age.

In his book, Merchants of Culture (2010, 2012)—the first major study of trade publishing for more than 30 years—Thompson situates the current challenges facing the industry in an historical context, analysing the transformation of trade publishing in the United States and Britain since the 1960s. He gives a detailed account of how the world of trade publishing really works, dissecting the roles of publishers, agents and booksellers and showing how their practices are shaped by a field that has a distinctive structure and dynamic. By reconstructing this dynamic he is able to shed fresh light on how bestsellers are made and on why many thousands of books and authors find themselves marooned in an industry increasingly focused on short-term growth and profitability. Against this backcloth Thompson analyses the impact of the digital revolution on book publishing and examines the pressures—both economic and technological—that are re-shaping the field of trade publishing today.

The outcome of nearly five years of research, this major new book will establish itself as an exemplary work in the study of contemporary culture and will be essential reading for anyone interested in books and their future.