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Short story collections, cultural value, and the Australian market for books


Stinson, E, Short story collections, cultural value, and the Australian market for books, Australian Humanities Review, 66 pp. 46-64. ISSN 1325-8338 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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THIS ARTICLE EMPLOYS A BIBLIOMETRIC DATASET COMPRISING FORTY YEARS OF Australian sole-authored short story collections to examine the degree to which non-economic values, such as cultural value and symbolic value, regulate cultural production in Australian book publishing. While short story collections may be an unexpected and oblique measure, the variable status of the sole-authored short story collection makes it a useful barometer for examining publishers’ investments in cultural forms of value, as opposed to commercial ones. This data suggests two findings that diverge from accounts of recent Australian literary production: (1) that the flowering of Australian short fiction in booklength form occurred slightly later than commonly noted (in the mid -1980s rather than the 1970s), and (2) that there has been a significant contemporary increase in the publishing of largely non-commercial short story collections since 2012. This second finding potentially problematises narratives of literary decline in Australian publishing. In particular, the re-emergence of the short story collection suggests that debates about the disaggregation of the literary field may be overstated, since this data potentially suggests a repolarisation of the field. Rather than reinscribing hierarchies of literary value, however, this repolarisation may simply reflect trends within readerly demographics that consume different kinds of texts.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Australian literature, short stories, Bourdieu, cultural value
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Literary studies
Research Field:Australian literature (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature)
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Communication
Objective Field:Literature
UTAS Author:Stinson, E (Dr Emmett Stinson)
ID Code:150014
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:English
Deposited On:2022-05-11
Last Modified:2022-08-18
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