Twenty-First Century Book Studies: The State of the Discipline

2019-05-16T11:59:53Z (GMT) by S. L. Marsden Rachel Noorda
During the 25th annual Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP) conference in 2017, held at the University of Victoria, Canada, Stevie Marsden and Rachel Noorda moderated a workshop on the topic of “The Twenty-First Century Book.” Six scholars (Beth Driscoll, Per Henningsgaard, Simone Murray, DeNel Rehberg-Sedo, Simon Rowberry and Claire Squires), whose research is predominantly positioned within the twenty-first century, were invited to discuss the challenges and opportunities for study of the twenty-first century book. The 2017 SHARP conference, “Technologies of the Book”, seemed the perfect setting to hold this workshop. Not only did the conference theme complement many of the twenty-first century book subjects discussed during the workshop, but as it was SHARP’s 25th annual conference, it was imbued with reflection on the society’s past twenty-five years and the community of scholars it has developed. Indeed, SHARP membership data indicates that many of its members are interested in twenty-first century research and scholarship: thirty-four percent of SHARP members who indicated a historical period in their membership data listed the twenty-first century as a period of interest, either as an exclusive historical period of study or alongside other periods, particularly the twentieth century. Thus twenty-first century book research is a significant area of SHARP research and a period of study that interests a growing group of SHARP members. However, the discussion of twenty-first century book research held during the workshop indicated that there was a need for a fuller examination of the state of the discipline of the twenty-first century book. Accordingly, this article will explore and examine current trends, themes and critical discourse related to the twenty-first century of the book in order to explicate the current state of twenty-first century book studies.

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