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Name: Georgia Stabler
PhD: Postcolonial Literature
Thesis Title: Marketing Texts of Alterity at British Literary Festivals
The growing abundance of popular literary festivals in the UK suggests that the author is not dead, but rather a highly marketable tool in a nationwide booming literary scene. These public events encourage communities to engage with the ever changing literary scene and give upcoming writers a platform on which to publicise their works alongside more well-known writers. When this emerging culture of literary festival is considered alongside the rising prominence of postcolonialism as a school of critical academic thought, and an increasing readership of postcolonial texts in the West, it is timely to scrutinize the inclusion of this literature in a specific context which has major influential pull on what the British public are reading.
My thesis analyses the selective processes of annual literary festivals held in Britain with a distinctly postcolonial gaze. This research interrogates not only the marketing of postcolonial texts (or texts of alterity) at these events, but also some of the processes by which value is attributed to postcolonial literature within their cultural field. It also considers the market conditions which have framed the emergence of English language postcolonial literatures and respond to existing accounts of how a writer’s marginality is experienced by consumers of postcolonial texts through the largely unresearched area of literary festivals.
The main aims of this thesis are to evaluate what extent postcolonial writers are limited or advanced by their participation in literary festivals, are they further marginalised? Is their work valued simply as a commodity of cultural otherness in the West? Or do the functions of this context adequately serve the interests of the writers through considered publicising, public interviews and awards founded to celebrate and recognise diversity in contemporary British literary culture? In addition, this project observes the extent that literary festivals affect local readerships of postcolonial texts in the UK and how this frames the ways in which the British public views and understands literature and the functions of literary festivals. Thirdly, it interrogates the role literary festivals play in influencing how policy makers value literature in education and the media. This thesis therefore concerns itself with a specific area of literary economy and postcolonial literary production, locating it in a largely unresearched and critically focused context which will contribute to a discourse on contemporary postcolonial texts and their production, dissemination and consumption in the UK. The research will include close readings of English language postcolonial texts featured at selected literary festivals as well as the notorious names in the field, and interviews conducted with event organisers, writer’s, festival attendees and journalists involved in the publicity of the events.
The research project will be split into four areas of analysis which will naturally form the focus of each chapter: Middle Eastern literature, Black British Writing, South Asian Writing and Nigerian Writers. The representation and reception of these areas will be considered at each literary festival.
Supervisors and Institution(s):
Dr Jenni Ramone - Nottingham Trent University
Dr Corinne Fowler - University of Leicester
Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links): TBC: 2015/2016
Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:
- Annual Teaching and Learning Conference: I presented alongside other student researchers and discussed the value of utilising the skills of undergraduates in research projects undertaken by academic staff. The presentation also demonstrated how useful the experience was for the research assistants in terms of developing their academic and professional research skills.
- I was granted departmental funding to work as a research assistant on Dr Jenni Ramone's (NTU) upcoming monograph through the SPUR initiative (Scholarship Projects for Undergraduate Researchers). In this role I compiled research on the Onitsha book market in Nigeria and produced an extensive annotated bibliography of the documentation I found in this subject area including early bibliographic compilations, digitised versions of the literature and references of work by specialised scholars. This research fostered an ongoing interest in the global literary economy and the different contexts in which postcolonial literatures are produced and circulated.
Other Research Interests:
- Postcolonial theory and literature
- Neocolonialism, globalisation
- Diaspora, exile, and migration literatures
- Black British writing
- British Asian writing
- Gender studies
University email address: email@example.com
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