23rd May, 2016

Independent Publishing Conference 2016: Call for papers

Publishing: A Solitary and Social Enterprise

Extended deadline: 15 August 2016

All accepted presenters will be invited to submit content for possible publication by Monash University Publishing in a book of essays resulting from the conference.

Reading is often a solitary act; publishing, on the other hand, is undeniably social. Publishing prompts social gatherings, from sedate book launches to rowdy book clubs to ragged revolutions. Embedded in old and new industries and technologies, publishing brings together disparate professions and tribes. The very forms and genres published depend on norms and conventions that are particular to a given society, though these societies are not necessarily national or even geographic.

News of published work circulates through social networks, both digital and analogue, transforming publications into conversations. Distribution networks deliver books to bookstores and libraries that enable both access and engagement in those works. Simultaneously, the same works are delivered globally in digital form, connecting people who have never met in person. Though new technologies have enabled previously muted voices to be heard, the social ills of marginalisation and inequality remain.

In Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson argues that national identity is built on a communal literary and historical past, a past constructed by the distribution of print material. Publishing, in this formulation, not only trumpets the development of social consciousness, broadcasting the contents of individual and collective minds, but also transforms those individuals and collectives by presenting to them the contents of their own and other minds. Published works reflect the societies that produce them, of course, but they also change societies, both their own and others.

We are seeking papers that explore the social side of Australian publishing. We want to hear how publishing engages with both society and its constructs. How does publishing engage with and negotiate between different social spaces? How are contemporary social patterns, particularly the growth of online social spaces and hyper-connectivity, influencing the business practices of independent publishers?

Although our preference is for papers that focus on independent publishing, presentations on all aspects of publishing are welcome. We also encourage papers from related disciplines, such as literary studies, creative writing, and media and communication studies. Possible topics might include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Impacts and uses of social media and
    other online social spaces
  • Relationships, hierarchies and power in publishing
  • Sociological approaches to independent publishing
  • Social mores, ideology and censorship
  • Publishing and literary communities
  • Publishing and ‘imagined communities’
  • Publishing and publics
  • Publishing as construction of cultures, sub-cultures and counter-cultures
  • Representation of social and political movements in literature
  • Libraries and bookshops as social spaces
  • Author tours, book launches, readings, literary festivals, and other social events

The 2016 Independent Publishing Conference will be held in Melbourne from Wednesday 9 November to Saturday 12 November at the Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. Academic panels will be held on Thursday 10 November.

Prof. David Throsby will be giving the keynote address, entitled Arguing the value of the Australian book industry. David Throsby is Distinguished Professor of Economics at Macquarie University in Sydney, and together with Dr Jan Zwar is currently engaged in a three-year study entitled The Australian Book Industry: Authors, Publishers and Readers in a Time of Change, funded by the Australian Research Council.

We invite proposals by Monday 15 August 2016. Proposals should contain an abstract of 200-300 words. Please include your paper title, institutional affiliation, bio-note and contact details in the abstract. Submissions and enquiries should be sent to Millicent Weber (millicent.weber@monash.edu).


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