[University home]

School of Arts, Histories and Cultures (This a legacy site)

Contemporary Literature and its Contexts

Centre for New Writing, The University of Manchester, 1st-2nd July 2010

As Contemporary Literature becomes established as a lively and fruitful discipline within English Literary Studies, increasing numbers of critics are turning their attention afresh to the material contexts of that literature's production, dissemination and reception. Such an attention comprises, amongst other things, a growing awareness of, and interest in, the effects of prize culture, the critical functions and languages of reading groups, the new forms of marketing and new opportunities for reviewing made possible by the internet, the shifting dynamics of the author-reader relationship due to rising numbers of festivals and literary events, and the apparatus of authorship with its increasing focus on celebrity, promotion, branding and the authorial persona. In addition, the popularity of academic creative writing courses raises questions about the relationship between author and critic, and between creative and critical discourse.

The aim is to think about the complex reciprocity of these material contexts with the forms, themes and genres of contemporary writing. Contemporary Literature is, therefore, viewed as taking place as part of an intricate economy of exchange; it is viewed as an "industry" with the various readings and connotations that this term permits.

The conference brings together critics, practitioners and industry experts from the field of Contemporary Literature and features, in addition to traditional academic panels, a number of literary readings and discussions.

With the participation of Continuum and Comma Press.

Keynote Speakers

Professor Peter Boxall, Professor of English, University of Sussex

Professor Claire Squires, Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, University of Stirling


The Next Big Thing? The 2010s

This roundtable will offer a discussion of emerging trends and voices that aims to generate debate about how we go about distinguishing, canonizing and profiling what is innovative in post-millennial writing.

 Contemporary Poetry

This roundtable will talk about poetry's different national contexts: the U.S., England, Wales and Ireland as well as about whether/how publishing is changing, how magazines and publishers work in these countries and, online, more internationally.  The discussion will also touch upon anthologies and ideas of a 'new poetry', national or international, emerging in them.

With poets John McAuliffe (Chair), Anthony Caleshu, Conor O'Callaghan and Deryn Rees-Jones (tbc).

From Prison to Print: The Emergence and Circulation of Contemporary Street Gang Memoirs
This session will explore the complex story of emergence and circulation of contemporary street gang memoirs. The controversial nature of such texts encourages us to consider the difficulties in finding a willing publisher, subsequent marketing techniques, and how the memoirs have been received in various public spheres. Indeed, such texts have been praised as violent and sensationalist or by contrast, praised as offering a pedagogic and preventative anti-gang stance.
With Luis J. Rodriguez and Barbara Cottman Becnel
With thanks to the British Association of American Studies.

The Literature Industry

With Nicholas Royle, Will Francis (Greene&Heaton) and Ra Page (Comma Press)

Public Events
Thursday 1st July 18:30:  Martin Amis Public Events: Literature and Violence

Friday 2nd July 19:00-21:00:  Young Writers Reading Night at Kro Bar

with JT Welsch (poetry), Zoe Lambert (fiction) and Chris Killen (fiction)


Conference Programme

Registration Form

Campus and city maps


NEW - download the conference poster here.

For information please contact Rebecca Pohl: Rebecca.Pohl@Manchester.ac.uk