I am pleased to announce that on Thursday, 21 January 2010 at 5.45PM, off the Redmond Barry Reading Room at the State Library of Victoria, Per Henningsgaard will present a paper on "Book Publishing, E-books, and the Production of Literatures of Social Reform."
Predictions abound about the future of the book. Most of these, however, are about the future of the codex rather than the book. Furthermore, most predictions will be outdated within a matter of months, since they are often preoccupied with detailing the specifics of the latest e-book and e-reader technology. In spite of their almost compulsive accounting of the ‘specs’ of this technology, these predictions are notoriously unspecific in their discussion of books—as evidenced by the failure to distinguish between "the book" and "the codex," but also in their neglect of more conventional (and specific) categories such as "fiction," "poetry," and "non-fiction."
This seminar presentation will attempt to chart a remedial course by considering the (possible) effect of e-books on one specific literary category—more specific even than "fiction" or "non-fiction," though in fact crossing these two categories. This category is literatures of social reform. That is to say, books which inspired social reforms of one type or another.
This category of books, most of which were undeniably "popular" at the time of their publication, will be used as the basis for yet another prediction about the future of the book. This prediction, however, will recognise the differences between book and codex; it will also be informed by a clear understanding of the role of book publishers in the production of literature.
Finally, this seminar presentation will consider the prospects for literature functioning as an agent of social change in an e-book future. Per Henningsgaard
is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP). He went to UWSP from Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Western Australia, where he was employed as a Sessional Tutor following the completion of his PhD in 2008 at The University of Western Australia. Originally from Minnesota, Per moved to Australia in 2005 under the auspices of a Fulbright Grant. His research interests include Australian and other postcolonial literatures, as well as publishing and book history.
Members who attended the 2007 BSANZ Conference in Hobart may remember Per because, in that year, he won a Postgraduate Conference Travel Award to present a paper on the "Fremantle Press and the Cultivation of a Regional Press in Australia."