Palgrave Studies in Literary Anthropology
cover

Live Literature

The Experience and Cultural Value of Literary Performance Events from Salons to Festivals

Authors: Wiles, Ellen

  • Provides an unprecedented overview of the contemporary live literature scene, its relationship to the publishing industry, its cultural and economic context, its recent growth and its history
  • Evaluates participant experience at live literature events, involving reader-audiences and author-performers, and assesses the cultural value of live literature in a digitalizing world
  • Argues for experiential literary ethnography as a powerful literary anthropological tool to communicate the value of live arts events in scholarly and applied contexts
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Buy this book

eBook 21,39 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • The eBook version of this title will be available soon
  • Due: May 21, 2021
  • ISBN 978-3-030-50385-7
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format:
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
Softcover 25,99 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • Due: May 21, 2021
  • ISBN 978-3-030-50384-0
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Institutional customers should get in touch with their account manager
  • Covid-19 shipping restrictions
  • The final prices may differ from the prices shown due to specifics of VAT rules
About this book

This ground-breaking book explores the phenomenal growth of live literature in the digitalizing 21st century. Wiles asks why literary events appeal and matter to people, and how they can transform the ways in which fiction is received and valued. Readers are immersed in the experience of two contrasting events: a major literary festival and an intimate LGBTQ+ salon. Evocative scenes and observations are interwoven with sharp critical analysis and entertaining conversations with well-known author-performers, reader-audiences, producers, critics, and booksellers. Wiles’s experiential literary ethnography represents an innovative and vital contribution, not just to literary research, but to research into the value of cultural experience across art forms. This book probes intersections between readers and audiences, writers and performers, texts and events, bodies and memories, and curation and reception. It addresses key literary debates from cultural appropriation to diversity in publishing, the effects of social media, and the quest for authenticity. It will engage a broad audience, from academics and producers to writers and audiences.

About the authors

Ellen Wiles is a writer, curator and academic. A Lecturer in Creative Writing at Exeter University, her interdisciplinary research practice combines literary anthropology with creative writing. She is the author of the novel The Invisible Crowd (2017) which was awarded the Victor Turner Prize in ethnographic writing and was a Guardian book of the year, and Saffron Shadows (2015), a book about literary culture in Myanmar. She previously worked as a human rights lawyer.

Reviews

‘A hugely insightful and entertaining survey of the live literature scene: what it is, who it's for, and why it matters. Full of brilliant analysis and fascinating vignettes, it is sure to be standard work on the subject for years to come.’

­­– Michael Hughes, novelist, author of the award-winning novel Country, and Creative Writing lecturer at Queen Mary University of London

 

'Literature is often thought of as an intensely inward, individual experience—the slow, silent immersion in a book which has the potential to transform how we see ourselves, others and the world. Yet, as Live Literature shows, it is for numerous groups and communities across the world now a powerful public experience as well. Creatively blending autobiographical reflection, anthropological ‘thick description’, and literary analysis—in a mode she calls ‘experiential literary ethnography’—Ellen Wiles uncovers what it means, for authors and audiences, to bring the written word to life as speech and performance today. Live Literature is not only a ground-breaking contribution to contemporary cultural studies.  It is a stylish and engaging counter to the cynics and doomsayers who are, as ever, prematurely waving literature’s final death notice.'

– Peter D. McDonald, author of Artefacts of Writing: Ideas of the State and Communities of Letters from Matthew Arnold to Xu Bing (2017), and Professor of English and Related Literature at the University of Oxford.

 

At a time when public life has been curtailed and we are increasingly concerned with the alienating effects of social media, Ellen Wiles' riveting account of live literature events reawakens us to the emotional connectiveness and sense of community that are fostered by participation in face-to-face art performances.  Live Literature is an eloquent testimony to the ways in which the life of art entails the art of life’.

–         Michael Jackson, poet, novelist, author of The Paper Nautilus, and Professor of World Religions, Harvard University

 

'In Covid times, with Zoom and digital culture replacing real experiences, this book is an inspiring and heartening reminder of why live literature matters. Collective human engagement with writers, in literary festivals and salons, is analysed here by a writer passionately and personally engaged with her subject. The accounts of author-performers' appearances and reader-audiences' responses make for a powerful argument that we mustn't allow live literary events to die.'

–         Helen Taylor, author of Why Women Read Fiction: The Stories of Our Lives (2019), Emeritus Professor of English at Exeter University, and the first Director of the Liverpool Literary Festival

 

‘In this bold, wide-ranging book, acclaimed author Ellen Wiles makes a convincing case for live literature as a crucial cultural practice of the 21st century—a practice that includes “bodies, voices, performance, places, spaces, emotions, and communities, as well as individual intellects and judgments.” Combining literary criticism, sociology, cognitive science, and journalism (e.g., her account of the celebrated Hay Festival), Wiles brings us a compelling report from the future of literature that is already here.’

–         Lisa Zunshine, author of Getting Inside Your Head: What Cognitive Science Can Tell Us about Popular Culture, Bush-Holbrook Professor of English at the University of Kentucky

 

‘Ellen Wiles’ book Live Literature breathes new life into scholarship of contemporary literary culture with this richly nuanced, highly readable foray into the world of the spoken word. Wiles’ ethnographic approach is fresh, thoughtful and engaging. This is an essential addition to the expanded field of publishing and the literary industries.’

–         Anna Kiernan, author of Post-Digital Writing: Cultures and Contexts, Publisher at The Lit Platform, and Director of the MA in Creativity at the University of Exeter


 'Ellen Wiles's fascinating and engaging new book on live literature beautifully reveals how the seemingly personal act of reading can be transformed, and even enhanced, through performance.' 

– Deirdre Mask, author of The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal about Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power (2020)


 Literary festivals and salons come alive in this charming book packed with writers, readers, performers and audiences revealing the very human desire for shared cultural encounter. Ellen Wiles has crafted a reading experience that is fun, evocative, intelligent and informative, offering a gifted writer’s vivid descriptions and an anthropologist’s keen analysis.

–         Alisse Waterston, author of Light in Dark Times: The Human Search for Meaning, and Professor of Anthropology at the City University of New York, John Jay College


 ‘A pitch-perfect guide to the live literature scene.’

– Matthew Rubery, author of The Untold Story of the Talking Book (2016), and Professor of Modern Literature at Queen Mary University of London.


‘Live Literature takes you on a vivid journey visiting literary festivals and salons across the UK. More than a book reader, you’ll feel like a theatre spectator in front of a skilfully directed performance featuring many characters, sub-plots and scene changes. Wiles’ experiential ethnographies are an outstanding contribution to the fields of literary anthropology and performance studies.’

–         Dr Margherita Laera, Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre, University of Kent

Buy this book

eBook 21,39 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • The eBook version of this title will be available soon
  • Due: May 21, 2021
  • ISBN 978-3-030-50385-7
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format:
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
Softcover 25,99 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • Due: May 21, 2021
  • ISBN 978-3-030-50384-0
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Institutional customers should get in touch with their account manager
  • Covid-19 shipping restrictions
  • The final prices may differ from the prices shown due to specifics of VAT rules
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Live Literature
Book Subtitle
The Experience and Cultural Value of Literary Performance Events from Salons to Festivals
Authors
Series Title
Palgrave Studies in Literary Anthropology
Copyright
2021
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG
eBook ISBN
978-3-030-50385-7
DOI
10.1007/978-3-030-50385-7
Softcover ISBN
978-3-030-50384-0
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XVIII, 380
Number of Illustrations
1 b/w illustrations, 1 illustrations in colour
Topics