PUB800 – FALL 2019

Text & Con­text: Pub­lish­ing in Con­tem­po­rary Cul­ture

Syl­labus for Fall 2019
Mon­days 9:30am–12:30pm, rm 2290
John Maxwell,


This course is an ex­am­i­na­tion of the sig­nif­i­cance, con­tem­po­rary state, and de­vel­op­ing trends in pub­lish­ing, mostly from a Cana­dian per­spec­tive, across book, pe­ri­od­i­cal, on­line, and schol­arly forms.

As a sem­i­nar, PUB­800 op­er­ates as a com­mu­nity of in­quiry in which, through read­ing, writ­ing, and dis­cussing, we to­gether build a col­lec­tive un­der­stand­ing of pub­lish­ing and its key is­sues. We will work largely in pub­lic: all writ­ten and pre­sented work will re­side on this web­site, which will grow to be the archive of our ef­forts. We will write, com­ment, and pub­lish, and thereby ac­tively shape our writ­ing and read­ing con­texts.

The rec­om­mended texts for this class are:

  • Phillips, Angus, and Michael Bhaskar (eds). 2019. The Ox­ford Hand­book of Pub­lish­ing. Ox­ford Uni­ver­sity Press.
  • Lorimer, Row­land. 2012. Ultra Lib­ris: Pol­icy, Tech­nol­ogy, and the Cre­ative Econ­omy of Book Pub­lish­ing in Canada. Toronto: ECW Press.
  • Young­ing, Greg, 2017. El­e­ments of In­dige­nous Style: A Guide for Writ­ing by and about In­dige­nous Peo­ples. Ed­mon­ton: Brush Ed­u­ca­tion.
  • Ver­meer, Leslie, 2016. The Com­plete Cana­dian Book Ed­i­tor. Ed­mon­ton: Brush Ed­u­ca­tion.

A com­pre­hen­sive read­ing list for the course can be found in our Zotero Bib­li­og­ra­phy (above, and at https://​tkbr.​publishing.​sfu.​ca/​pub800/​zotero-bibliography/​)

As well, the “Pin­board Links” above, (col­lected at https://​pinboard.​in/​u:​tkbr/​t:​802/​) col­lect in­ter­est­ing read­ings week to week as we move through the term.

You should also be fol­low­ing the fol­low­ing (as it were), as we will make ref­er­ence to these over the course of the term:


PUB­800 is a grad­u­ate sem­i­nar. We read, we write, and we dis­cuss. We will an­no­tate and gloss weekly read­ings using the Hypothes.​is sytem. Col­lec­tively, we come to new un­der­stand­ings about is­sues and per­spec­tives.

Each stu­dent will be re­spon­si­ble for a critial pre­sen­ta­tion and in­ter­ro­ga­tion of a par­tic­u­lar topic; we will ne­go­ti­ate the de­tails and sched­ul­ing of these in the first two weeks of the term.

You will also write three short es­says (1500–2000 words) on top­ics to be ne­go­ti­ated. Es­says will be posted on the course web­site (which is pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble), and peer-re­viewed by your col­leagues (peer re­views due one week after the essay dead­lines).

Short Essay #1 Due Oct 7 – 20%
Short Essay #2 Due Oct 28 – 20%
Short Essay #3 Due Nov 25 – 20%
Sem­i­nar pre­sen­ta­tion: – 20%
Peer re­view par­tic­i­pa­tion – 10%
Class (and on­line) par­tic­i­pa­tion –  10%


This out­line is pro­vi­sional; it will evolve. Please refer to the PUB­800 web­site for the lat­est ver­sion. See Zotero for the readings.

Week 1: Ori­en­ta­tion

In­tro­duc­tions; the role of lit­er­a­ture in so­ci­ety; the role of MPub­bers in pub­lish­ing; Hypothes.​is and Zotero; the call­ing of the roll.

– Vir­ginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own;
– Homer: Iliad & Odyssey;

Week 2: Pub­lish­ing is hard

Cap­i­tal, publics, risk, scale, abun­dance, and other prob­lems that must be over­come in order to achieve pub­li­ca­tion. (Lead: Nadya)

– Stadler: What Is Pub­li­ca­tion? http://​vimeo.​com/​14888791;
– Nash, “What Is the Busi­ness of Lit­er­a­ture?”;
– Wenzel, “The Twelve Tasks of the Publisher”;
– Warner, “Publics and Coun­ter­publics”;
– Bour­dieu, “The Forms of Cap­i­tal”
– Phillips & Bhaskar, The Oxford Handbook of Publishing.

Week 3: Colo­nial, na­tional, cul­tural poli­cies

The roots of pub­lish­ing, con­sid­ered his­tor­i­cally and crit­i­cally; white­ness and na­tion­al­ism; Col­o­niza­tion nar­ra­tives, De­col­o­niza­tion sto­ries, In­di­g­e­niza­tion sto­ries. (Lead: Ash & Vishakha)

– Lorimer, Ultra Lib­ris, Chap­ter 2;
– Young­ing, The El­e­ments of In­dige­nous Style;
– Reder & Sheild, “I Write This for All of You”;
– Smith, “Soup Cans and Love Slaves”;
– Worth, “This Li­brary Takes an In­dige­nous Ap­proach to Cat­e­go­riz­ing Books”;
– Akbar, “Di­ver­sity in Pub­lish­ing – still hideously mid­dle-class and white?”;
– Booknet Canada, “Fur­ther Read­ing: De­mand for Di­ver­sity”

Week 4: The book trade in Canada

Ten­sion be­tween for­eign-owned and do­mes­tic firms; pres­sures of a huge im­port mar­ket; cul­tural pol­icy and struc­tural sup­port for both Cana­dian lit­er­a­ture and Cana­dian in­dus­try. (Lead: Kankana & Hailey)

– Lorimer, Ultra Lib­ris, Chap­ter 4,5;
– ACP, “The Cana­dian Eng­lish-Lan­guage Book Pub­lish­ing In­dus­try Pro­file: Final Re­port”;
– Ipsos, “Cana­dian Cul­ture in a Dig­i­tal World 2017”;
– Mac­Skim­ming, “Net Ben­e­fit: Canada’s Pol­icy on For­eign In­vest­ment in the Book In­dus­try”;
– Mason, “‘Cap­i­tal In­tra­con­ver­sion’ and Cana­dian Lit­er­ary Prize Cul­ture”
– Lavoie, “Maple Leaves: Dis­cov­er­ing Canada through the Pub­lished Record”

Week 5: Struc­ture of the book in­dus­try

A larger look at the pub­lish­ing in­dus­try, na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally; big and small; prof­itable and not. (Lead: Mahima & Melissa)

– Wis­chen­bart, “The Global Rank­ing of the Pub­lish­ing In­dus­try 2017”;
– BNC Re­search, “The Cana­dian Book Mar­ket 2018”;
– Booknet Canada, https://​www.​booknetcanada.​ca;
– The­ri­ault, “First, Do No Harm;”
– Bold, “An Ac­ci­den­tal Pro­fes­sion”;
– Mil­liot & Deahl, “What’s the Mat­ter with Fic­tion Sales”

Oc­to­ber 14 is Thanks­giv­ing Mon­day

Week 6: The trans­for­ma­tion of re­tail

What the big-box stores of the 1990s began, Ama­zon has fur­thered. The shape of (book) re­tail today. (Lead: Ryann & Emily)

– Shatzkin, “A chang­ing book busi­ness”;
– Shatzkin, “A lot has changed”;
– Clark and Young, “Ama­zon”;
– Maxwell, “Ama­zon and the En­gage­ment Econ­omy”;

Copy­right law (and prac­tice) un­der­pins much of the pub­lish­ing world. Copy­right think­ing has been in flux over the past two decades. Cana­dian copy­right law em­bod­ies the strug­gles for clar­ity in how we think about copy­right in a dig­i­tal world. (Lead: Katia, Paige)

– Hesse, “The Rise of In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty”;
– Ruimy, “Statu­tory Re­view of the Copy­right Act: Re­port of the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on In­dus­try, Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy”;
– Dabrusin, “Shift­ing Par­a­digms: Re­port of the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Cana­dian Her­itage”
– An­der­son, “Québec’s Copibec Opens the Newest Chal­lenge”

Week 8: Schol­arly pub­lish­ing

Schol­arly pub­lish­ing is some­thing of a van­guard, where tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion, cre­ative dis­rup­tion, and rad­i­cally po­lar­ized think­ing about in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty re­sult is an in­cred­i­ble volatile space, from mas­sive multi­na­tion­als down right down to agile star­tups. (Lead: Anastacia)

– Lar­ivière et al. “The Oli­gop­oly of Aca­d­e­mic Pub­lish­ers in the Dig­i­tal Era”;
– Hinch­liffe, “Ad­vanc­ing an In­te­grated Ver­ti­cal Stack”;
– Priem & Hem­minger, “De­cou­pling the schol­arly jour­nal”;
– Pi­wowar et al., “The State of OA”;
– Daniel et al, “Li­brary Ac­qui­si­tion Pat­terns”

No­vem­ber 11 is Re­mem­brance Day

Week 9: (Dis)/inter/me­di­a­tion

The ebook and the rise of self-pub­lish­ing; the ‘dark side’ of the mar­ket; the prob­lems of abun­dance; ‘dis­in­ter­me­di­a­tion’ in audio and other media; are li­braries me­di­a­tors or dis­in­ter­me­di­a­tors? (Lead: Lauren, Amy J)

– Wis­chen­bart, “Global Ebook 2017 Re­port”;
– Jeong, “How a cabal of ro­mance writ­ers cashed in on Ama­zon Kin­dle Un­lim­ited”
– Potash, “Thoughts from a Dig­i­tal Ad­vo­cate”;
– Q&Q, “In­side the war be­tween Cana­dian li­braries and multi­na­tional pub­lish­ers”;
– Fiesler, “Why AO3’s Sur­prise Hugo Nom­i­na­tion is Such a Big Deal”;

Week 10: Pe­ri­od­i­cal pub­lish­ing today

Tra­di­tional mod­els for mag­a­zines and pe­ri­od­i­cals; de­cline of ad­ver­tis­ing rev­enues; au­di­ence dy­nam­ics and strate­gies. (Lead: Lakota)

– Madri­gal, “A Day in the Life of a Dig­i­tal Ed­i­tor”;
– Fis­cher, “Axios Media Trends”;
– Narang, “Notes From The Un­der­ground”;
– Hardes, “The Events Model”;
– Owen, “The long, com­pli­cated, and ex­tremely frus­trat­ing his­tory of Medium”

Week 11