Symposium: Unpublished America

University of Birmingham
Friday 20 May 2022 (11:00-17:30)
The University of Birmingham

Unpublished materials maybe withheld, unfinished or rejected manuscripts; or they may be suppressed reports, secret files and classified documents; or else they may be that which, like Melville's whale "unpainted to the last," remains fugitive and outside the published record. They may enter the public sphere as posthumous publications, archival discoveries or when restrictions are lifted, but also through unofficial channels including bootlegs and whistleblowers' leaks, or else by accident and chance.

Publication is a form of gatekeeping that confers commercial value and cultural capital, and a means of policing public discourse. As its negation, the history of the unpublished is bound to the history of publishing and so to the changing cultural, legal and technical status of publication. That status has always been challenged – by broadsides, pirated editions, privately circulated and self-published texts, mail art projects and Xeroxed fanzines – but has been so redefined in recent decades by the internet, file-sharing, social networks and digital media as to call into question any distinction between the published and unpublished. Publishing, and thus the unpublished, is a global enterprise and phenomenon, but unpublished material carries particular significance in North American contexts that emphasise and insist on republican citizenship, freedom of speech and voluble public expression.
Organised by Dr John Fagg (Birmingham) and Professor Gordon Hutner (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), funded by the Birmingham-Illinois BRIDGE seed fund, and building on a 2016 symposium where these initial ideas were generated and explored, organised by Dr Rona Cran and Dr John Fagg, this symposium presents papers on the theme of 'Unpublished America'. Speakers include Dr John Fagg, Dr Francesca Bratton (Uppsala), Dr Jenn Soong(Oxford), Dr Mike Kalisch (Oxford), Dr Kiron Ward (Essex), Dr Adam Rounce (Nottingham) and Dr Sara Wood(Birmingham). Rona Cran and Gordon Hutner will act as respondents. A second symposium is planned for September 2022, to take place at UIUC.

No registration is required for this event

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