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The Culture of the Publisher's Series

A major International 2-Day Conference held on

18 -19 October 2007

In the early 18th century, British publishers began gathering books together in themed series and packaging and marketing them as distinct, recognisable groups. The effects of this phenomenon were remarkable; by the mid-nineteenth century there were upward of 3,000 publishers' series in Britain alone, with many more elsewhere in the world, and the phenomenon is of course still with us today. During this 200-year period the culture of the publisher's series has opened up new possibilities for authors, publishers, distributors and readers, helped to establish a wide range of traditions from the establishment of national literary canons to the development of feminist lists, and influenced the kinds of literature we teach to the next generation of scholars.

While some publishers' series have been investigated in depth, there have been few opportunities for the work of individual scholars to be placed in meaningful dialogue. This major two-day conference seeks to encourage International scholars from all disciplines to examine the culture of the publishers' series globally with a view to furthering understanding of its historical, ideological, generic and geographical reach.

Organisers:Dr Mary Hammond and Professor John Spiers

Provisional Programme

Thursday 18 October
10.00-11.00am Registration, coffee: 3rd Floor Foyer, Senate House North
11.00am Welcome: Warwick Gould (Director, Institute of English Studies)
11.15am Keynote A:
  Canonicity, Reprint Publishing and the Sociology of Literature:
Gordon B. Neavill (Wayne State University, USA)
  Chair: Simon Eliot (Institute of English Studies)
12.15-1.45pm Lunch (own arrangements)
1.45-3.15pm Parallel Sessions:
  Panel 1: Forming Nationalisms
Chair: Isabelle Olivero (Bibliothèque Nationale de France)
  1. 'The Representation of Catholic Nationalism in Spain (1904-1933): Biblioteca "Patria" de Buenas Lecturas and Biblioteca de Cultura Popular': Eduardo Hernández Cano (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain)
  2. 'The First Modern Greek Publisher's Series and the Making of a Nation: Adamantios Korais' "The Greek Library"(1805-1826)':Nassia Yakovaki (University of Thessaly, Greece)
  3. 'Fabricating a National Canon: the role of Richard Bentley and George Robertson in developing and marketing the Australian Library': Alison Rukavina (University of Alberta, Canada)

Panel 2: Forming Nationalisms
Chair: Shafquat Towheed (Open University)

  1. 'Series for Women in 19th -century Netherlands': Lisa Kuitert (University of Amsterdam)
  2. 'The Spanish Collections of Herder Verlag: International Catholic Literature': Álvaro Ceballos Viro (Georg-August-Universität, Germany)
  3. 'The American Publisher's Series Goes to War, 1942-1946': John B. Hench (formerly American Antiquarian Society, USA)
3.15-3.45pm Tea

Keynote B:

  Leonard Bast's Library: Aspiration, Emulation and the Imperial National Tradition: Robert Fraser (Open University)
  Chair: Andrew Nash (University of Reading)




  (sponsored by the University of Glamorgan and the Institute of English Studies)
Friday 19 October
9.30-11.00 Parallel Sessions:
  Panel 3: Author/Publisher Relations 
Chair: Mary Hammond (University of Southampton)
  1. 'To undertake such works as they find to be wanted': the early years of the Clarendon Press Series': Simon Eliot (Institute of English Studies)
  2. 'Thomas Nelson's and John Buchan: mutual marketing in the publisher's series': Kate Macdonald (University of Ghent, Belgium; The Open University, UK) and Michael Ross (Avonworld Books)
  3. 'Negotiating the List: Launching Macmillan's Colonial Library and Author Contracts': Shafquat Towheed (Open University)
  Panel 4: Forming Taste 
Chair: Patrick Buckridge (Griffith University, Australia)
  1. 'The South Kensington Museum Art Handbooks: Publishing the Decorative Arts in late Victorian England': Elizabeth James (Victoria & Albert Museum)
  2. 'Signal Editions Poetry Series (Véhicule Press): Creating Bridges Between Communities': Julie Frédette (University of Sherbrooke, Canada)
  3. 'A Modern Library for Modern Times: Behind the Scenes at the Albatross Press': Michele K. Troy (University of Hartford, USA)
11.00-11.30 Coffee
11.30-1.00pm Parallel Sessions:
  Panel 5: Information/Education 
Chair: Kate Macdonald (University of Ghent, Belgium; The Open University, UK)
  1. 'Sound Information and Innocent Amusement': John Murray's Books on the Move': Barbara Schaff (University of Munich, Germany)
  2. 'Personality, Appreciation and Literary Education: Harrap's "Poetry and Life" Series, 1911-1930': Patrick Buckridge (Griffith University, Australia)
  3. 'Sifting out "rubbish" in the literature of the 1920s: Chatto and Windus and the Phoenix Library': Andrew Nash (Reading University)
  Panel 6: Cross-National Trends 
Chair: Robert Fraser (Open University)
  1. 'Excavating original African-American "pulp fiction": W.W. Norton's "Old School Books"': Cécile Cottenet (Université de Provence, France)
  2. 'Serialising African Literature': Nourdin Bejjit (Open University)
  3. 'One Series After Another: the Macmillan Company of Canada': Ruth Panofsky (Ryerson University, Canada)
1.00-2.15pm Lunch
2.15-3.45pm Parallel Sessions:
  Panel 7: Modernising the Book Trade 
Chair: Cécile Cottenet (Université de Provence, France)
  1. 'Market Forces and Modernization in the French Book Trade in the Last Century of the "Ancien Régime" and in the early Nineteenth Century: some reflections on the emergence of the publisher's series': Wal Kirsop (Monash University, Australia [read by Ian Willison, IES]):
  2. 'The Invention of the Book Series in France, 1850-1950': Isabelle Olivero (Bibliothèque Nationale de France)
  3. '"Fresh genius" and "imperishable charms": Routledge's Railway Library': Elizabeth James (British Library)
  Panel 8: New Approaches/New Markets 
Chair: Alison Rukavina (University of Alberta, Canada)
  1. 'Household Words: an account of the Bengal Family Library':Abhijit Gupta (Jadavpur University, Kolkata):
  2. 'Great Books by the Millions: J.M.Dent's Everyman's Library': Terry I. Seymour (Independent Scholar)
  3. 'The Green and the Gold: Publisher's Series in Nineteenth-Century Ireland': Elizabeth Tilley (National University of Ireland)
3.45-4.15pm Tea
4.15-5.15pm Keynote C:

The Series as Commodity: Marketing Fisher Unwin's Pseudonym and Autonym Library:Frederick Nesta (Lingnan University, Hong Kong)

  Chair: John Spiers (Institute of English Studies)
5.15pm Closing remarks: John Spiers and Mary Hammond
5.30pm Conference ends