Sunday Book-Thought 129

If Franklin W. Dixon [the pen name used by numerous authors for The Hardy Boys series] seemed like a criminal imposter in my childhood, he seems more like the model of authorship today. As many critics have noted over the last several decades, authors get conjured out of collaborations between and among an array of co-producers, both other people and other institutions, none of which can claim sole jurisdiction over the literary work that results. Whatever writers do with paper and ink, they only become authors through a network of editors, publishers, distributors, book stores, reviewers, and universities, to name only a few of the main institutional participants in the process. One great irony of authorship is that people may scribble away as long as they like, but they remain writers, not authors, until institutions like publishers and book stores legitimize their work, and in the process, transform the nature of their own authority.
Jason Puskar, ‘Institutions: Writing and Reading’, in The Cambridge Handbook of Literary Authorship, ed. by Ingo Berensmeyer, Gert Buelens, and Marysa Demoor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019) pp. 429-443 (p. 430).

Thinking Big, Thinking Small, Thinking Differently

The week after last, I trekked it down to London to attend the ‘Thinking Big: New Ambitions for English and the Humanities’ conference hosted at Senate House by the Institute of English Studies (where I did my MA) in collaboration with the School of English, Newcastle University. I had been asked to present a ‘provocation’ related to my research on the Digital Horizons panel. I’m good at provoking people, I thought to myself. I can totally do this. Off I went.

Despite having such a frustratingly vague name, this conference exposed me to so many interesting ideas about it means to study English and the humanities today. I learned things I didn’t know that I needed to know. I met people whose research blew me away with how innovative and interesting it was, and was humbled to see so many people engaging with publics in creatives ways that I hope to one day emulate myself. As a PhD student, it can be difficult to remember that there is a world outside of your thesis: Thinking Big showed me through its panels and their corresponding workshops (i.e. discussion-based seminars) that there are academics out there who are doing amazing work both nationally and internationally.

So, dear readers, because many of you were unable to make this conference, I have written you an overview of all that I learned at Thinking Big. This is a long one, but worth reading if you want to know about cool stuff happening within the humanities right now. Maybe you’ll get some ideas for your own cool stuff.

Read on, y’all. Continue reading “Thinking Big, Thinking Small, Thinking Differently”