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Background reading

What is Literature?

Mark Robson (ed.), What is Literature? A Critical Anthology (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2020)

Gerald Graff, Professing Literature: An Institutional History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007)

Hayden White, The Fiction of Narrative (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2010)

Martin Puchner, The Written Word: How Literature Shaped History (London: Granta, 2017)

Derek Attridge, The Work of Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015)

Rita Felski, The Limits of Critique (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2015)

John Guillory, Professing Criticism: Essays on the Organisation of Literary Criticism (University of Chicago Press, 2022)

Richard Salmon, The Formation of the Victorian Literary Profession (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013)

Tilar J. Mazzeo, Plagiarism and Literary Property in the Romantic Period (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006)

Ted Underwood, Why Literary Periods Mattered: Historical Contrast and the Prestige of English Studies (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013)

Joseph Rezek, London and the Making of Provincial Literature: Aesthetics and the Transatlantic Book Trade, 1800-1850 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015)

Peter D. McDonald, British Literary Culture and Publishing Practice, 1880-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997) 

John Sutherland, ‘Publishing History: A Hole at the Centre of Literary Sociology’, Critical Inquiry 14.3 (1998), 574-589

Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, Philippe Desan, Wendy Griswold, ‘Editors' Introduction: Mirrors, Frames, and Demons: Reflections on the Sociology of Literature’, Critical Inquiry 14. 3 (1988), 421-430

Ted Striphas, The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control (Columbia University Press, 2011)

Pierre Macherery, A Theory of Literary Production (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978)
Robert Escarpit, The Revolution of the Book (London: UNESCO, 1966) 

Leah Price, “Reading: the State of the Discipline”, Book History 7 (2004), 303-320.

Barbara Christian, “The Race for Theory” [1987] in New Black Feminist Criticism, 1985-2000, ed. Gloria Bowles, M. Giulia Fabi and Arlene R. Keizer (Uni of Illinois Press, 2007) pp.40-50

Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (Harvard University Press, 1992)

Guari Viswanathan, Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India (London: Faber and Faber, 1990)

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 2006)

Francesco Crocco, Literature and the Growth of British Nationalism (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2014)

Kathleen Davis, Periodization and Sovereignty (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008)

Ngugi wa Thiong’o, ‘The Language of African Literature’, in African Literature: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory, ed. by T. Olaniyan, T. and A. Quayson, Oxford: Blackwell (2007), 285-306

Edward Said, Orientalism (London: Routledge, 1978)

Nicholas Harrison, Our Civilizing Mission: The Lessons of Colonial Education (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2019)

Cooper, Gabriel. "What Good is the Canon for a Diversified and Decolonized Curriculum?." Die Unterrichtspraxis/Teaching German 53.2 (2020): 229-241.


Literary and Cultural Value

Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010 [1984])

Pierre Bourdieu, Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1996)

John Guillory, Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1993)

James English, The Economy of Prestige: Prizes, Awards and the Circulation of Cultural Value (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005)

Richard Nash, 'What is the Business of Literature?' (Spring 2013)

n+1 editorial, 'Too Much Sociology' (Spring 2013)

Simone Murray, The Adaptation Industry: The Cultural Economy of Contemporary Literary Adaptation (New York: Routledge, 2012)

Jim Collins, Bring on the Books for Everybody: How Literary Culture Became Popular Culture (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010)

Joshua Clover and Christopher Nealon, 'Literary and Economic Value', Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature (2017)
Rita Felski and Jim English, 'New Sociologies of Literature', New Literary History 41.2 (2010)

Wendy Griswold, Regionalism and the Reading Class (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2008)

Squires, Claire. "Marketing literature." The making of contemporary writing in Britain. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan (2007).
Miller, Laura J. "The best-seller list as marketing tool and historical fiction." Book history 3.1 (2000): 286-304.

Matthews, Nicole, and Nickianne Moody, eds. Judging a book by its cover: Fans, publishers, designers, and the marketing of fiction. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007.

Laing, Audrey, and Jo Royle. "Examining chain bookshops in the context of “third place”." International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management (2013).

Addis, Michela. "Understanding the Customer Journey to Create Excellent Customer Experiences in Bookshops." International Journal of Marketing Studies 8.4 (2016): 20-36.

Hoppen, Anne, Lorraine Brown, and Alan Fyall. "Literary tourism: Opportunities and challenges for the marketing and branding of destinations?." Journal of Destination Marketing & Management 3.1 (2014): 37-47.

Lawrence Rainey, Institutions of Modernism: Literary Elites and Public Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998)

John Xiros Cooper, Modernism and the Culture of Market Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)

Greg Barnhisel and Catherine Turner (eds.), Pressing the Fight: Print, Propaganda, and the Cold War (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2009)

Greg Barnhisel, Cold War Modernists: Art, Literature, and American Cultural Diplomacy (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015)

Mark Wollaeger, ‘Reframing Modernism: The Corporation, the University, and the Cold War’, Affirmations: of the modern, 3.1 (2015), 49–77

Sarah Brouillette, Literature and the Creative Economy (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014)

Mark McGurl, ‘Everything and Less: Fiction in the Age of Amazon’, Modern Language Quarterly 77.3 (2016), 447-471


Institutions of world literature

Sarah Brouillette, “Postcolonial Writers and the Global Literary Marketplace”, in Postcolonial Writers in the Global Literary Marketplace (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 44-75 (44-61). 

Neil Lazarus, The Postcolonial Unconscious (Cambridge University Press, 2011)

Pascale Casanova, The World Republic of Letters (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004)

Joseph Slaughter, ‘Enabling Fictions and Novel Subjects: The "Bildungsroman" and International Human Rights Law’, PMLA 121. 5 (2006), pp. 1405-1423. 

Warwick Research Collective, Combined and Uneven Development: Towards a New Theory of World-Literature (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015), pp. 1-15.

Monica Popescu, At Penpoint: African Literatures, Postcolonial Studies, and the Cold War (Duke UP, 2020)

Peter Kalliney, ‘Modernism, African Literature, and the Cold War’, Modern Language Quarterly 76.3 (2015), 333-368

Jini Kim Watson, Cold War Reckonings: Authoritarianism and the Genres of Decolonization (Fordham UP, 2021)

Joseph Slaughter, Human Rights, Inc: The World Novel, Narrative form, and International Law (Ashland: Fordham UP, 2007)

Isabel Hofmeyr, ‘World Literature and the Imperial Textual Commons’, English Studies in Africa 57 (2014), 1-8

Peter J. Kalliney, Commonwealth of Letters: British Literary Culture and the Emergence of Postcolonial Aesthetics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)

Tamson Pietsch, Empire of Scholars: Universities, Networks and the British Academic World, 1850–1939 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015)

Arjun Appadurai, ‘Disjunction and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy’, Theory, Culture & Society7.2 (1990), 295-310

Shuyu Kong, Consuming Literature: Best Sellers and the Commercialization of Literary Production in China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005)

Q. S. Tong and Ruth Y. Y. Hung, ‘To Be Worthy of the Suffering and Survival’: Chinese Memoirs and the Politics of Sympathy’, Life Writing 4.1 (2007), 59-79

Jabeen Akhtar, 'Why Am I Brown? South Asian Fiction and Pandering to Western Audiences', LA Review of Books (2014)

Karolina Watroba, 'World Literature and Literary Value: Is “Global” The New “Lowbrow?' Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry , Volume 5 , Issue 1 , January 2018 , pp. 53 - 68

Anamik Saha, 'The Rationalizing/Racializing Logic of Capital in Cultural Production', Media Industries, Volume 3, Issue 1, 2016

Caroline Koegler, Critical Branding: Postcolonial Studies and the Market (Abingdon: Routledge, 2018)

Krishnan, Madhu. Contingent Canons: African Literature and the Politics of Location. Cambridge University Press, 2018.

Caroline Davis, Creating Postcolonial Literature: African Writers and British Publishers (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

Neil ten Kortenaar, Postcolonial Literature and the Impact of Literacy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011)

Graham Huggan, The Postcolonial Exotic: Marketing the Margins (London: Routledge, 2001)

Dobrota Pucherová, ‘“A Continent Learns to Tell its Story at Last”: Notes on the Caine Prize’, Journal of Postcolonial Writing 48.1 (2012), 13-25

Sarah Brouillette, ‘On the African Literary Hustle’, Blind Field (August 2017),

Sarah Brouillette, UNESCO and the Fate of the Literary (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2019)

Doreen Strauhs, African Literary NGOs: Power, Politics, and Participation (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

Eric Bennett, Workshops of Empire: Stegner, Engle, and American Creative Writing during the Cold War, Iowa City: University of Iowa Press (2015)

Joseph Slaughter, "World Literature as Property', Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics 34 (2014), 1-30

Laetitia La Follette (ed.), Negotiating Culture: Heritage, Ownership and Intellectual Property (University of Massachusetts Press, 2013)

Helle Porsdam, Copyrighting Creativity: Creative Values, Cultural Heritage Institutions and Systems of Intellectual Property (Routledge, 2020)

B. Venkat Mani , ‘Bibliomigrancy: Book-Series and the Making of World Literature’, in The Routledge Companion to World Literature edited by Theo D'haen, David Damrosch, Djelal Kadir

Brian Nelson and Brigid Maher (eds.), Perspectives on Literature and Translation: Creation, Circulation, Reception (New York: Routledge, 2013)

Susan Bassnett (ed.), Translation and World Literature (London: Routledge, 2018)

Robert Stam, World Literature, Transnational Cinema, and Global Media (New York: Routledge, 2019)

Andrea Reyes Elizondo and Jean Lee Cole, 'On Decolonising Book History' (2020)


Public Humanities

Alan Liu, The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2004)

Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class: And How it's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life (New York: Perseus Book Group, 2002)

Mark McGurl, The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009)

Adam Hammond, Literature in a Digital Age: An Introduction (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016)

Franco Moretti, Distant Reading (London: Verso, 2013)

Richard J. Finneran (ed.), The Literary Text in the Digital Age (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996)

Franco “Bifo” Berardi, The Soul at WorkLink opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window in The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy, trans. by Francesca Cadel and Giuseppina Mecchia (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2009), 74105. 

Stephen Marche, Literature is not Data”,  

Holger Syme and Scott Selisker, 'In Defense of Data: Responses to Stephen Marche's 'Literature is Not Data'

Daniel Allington, Sarah Brouillette, David Golumbia, ‘Neoliberal Tools (and Archives): A Political History of Digital Humanities’, 

Moya Z. Bailey,All the Digital Humanists Are White, All the Nerds Are Men, but Some of Us Are Brave", in Intersectionality in Digital Humanities, ed. by Barbara Bordalejo and Roopika Risam (ARC Humanities Press, 2019), pp. 9-12. 

 Eric Hayot, “The Sky is Falling[] 

Chris Newfield, Unmaking the Public University (Harvard UP, 2008), pp. 125-158. 

Martha Nussbaum, “VI. Cultivating Imagination: Literature and the Arts,” Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (Princeton UP, 2016), pp. 95-120.  

Castiglia, Christopher. The Practices of Hope: Literary Criticism in Disenchanted TimesLink opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window. United States, NYU Press, 2017. [Extract]

Smith, Christian. “’The point is to change it’: The Link opens in a new windowLink opens in a new windowImperative for Activist Literary StudiesLink opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window.” Alicante Journal of English Studies, no. 33 (2020): 17-42.


Resources on Children's / Young Adult Literature:

Brown, Megan. "Dwarfism on Display: Analysing the Visual Rhetorics of Book Covers on Four Children's Literature Chapter Books." Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 14.2 (2020): 203-223.

Dinter, Sandra, and Ralf Schneider. "Adults Looking at Children: Books, Bodies and Buying in Children’s Book Covers JE SSIC AME DH UR ST." Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Childhood in Contemporary Britain. Routledge, 2017. 136-152.

Talking beyond the page : reading and responding to picture books / edited by Janet Evans Routledge | 2009.

Matthews, Nicole, and Nickianne Moody, eds. Judging a book by its cover: Fans, publishers, designers, and the marketing of fiction. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007.

Gallagher, Daniel Patrick, "The Look of Fiction: A Visual Analysis of the Front Covers of The New York Times Fiction Bestsellers" (2015). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. The Look of Fiction: A Visual Analysis of the Front Covers of The New York Times Fiction Bestsellers ( opens in a new window

Phillips, Angus. "Cover story Cover design in the marketing of fiction." Logos 18.1 (2007): 15-20.

Taxel, Joel. "Children's Literature at the Turn of the Century:" Toward a Political Economy of the Publishing Industry"." Research in the Teaching of English (2002): 145-197.

Abate, Michelle Ann. The big smallness: Niche marketing, the American culture wars, and the new children’s literature. Routledge, 2016.

Short, Kathy G. "What's trending in children's literature and why it matters." Language Arts 95.5 (2018): 287-298.

Ramdarshan Bold, M. The Eight Percent Problem: Authors of Colour in the British Young Adult Market (2006–2016). Pub Res Q 34, 385–406 (2018). opens in a new window

Bold, Melanie Ramdarshan. Inclusive young adult fiction: Authors of colour in the United Kingdom. Springer, 2019.