EN3PC-Publishing Cultures: Writers, Publics, Archives

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Nicola Wilson

Email: n.l.wilson@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

How are texts made and literary reputations formed? What are the roles of collaboration, networks, and cross-media practices in making and distributing modern literature? This research-led module explores how print culture and the literary marketplace affects the way we read and understand texts. It is rooted in the first half of the twentieth century when debates about class, standards of reading and literary taste were hot topics, and new forms of literary cultures emerged. We will explore debates on modernism and the middlebrow, the role of publishers and editors, new book clubs and magazines, radio, celebrity, censorship, and advertising. Through a mixture of critical reading and practice-based workshops, you will be introduced to new ways of thinking about primary texts and can use digital archives and Reading’s unique Special Collections and publisher’s archives to produce your own research-based coursework.


The module aims to introduce students to new research in modernist print cultures, enabling them to explore and think critically around current debates on modernism and the middlebrow, the role of print culture in making literary texts, and how texts circulate inter-medially. The module is historically specific but hopes to encourage students to think critically about literary production and circulation, publishing and archives, today. Through the research project, the module aims to develop skills in independent and collaborative research methods, and to enable students to understand and potentially contribute to the making of new digital resources.   

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a good understanding of early C20 print culture and modernist literary history

  • Understand how literary texts are made, circulated, and re-produced through complex, collaborative processes

  • Think critically about debates around commerce, questions of taste, and the literary

  • Engage critically with ideas presented in seminars and secondary reading

  • Develop independent research skills and understanding of research methods

  • Develop ability to work collaboratively – with peers and other professionals

Additional outcomes:

Oral and written communication skills will be developed, together with critical, interpretative and analytical abilities. Students will gain insight into current research in the digital humanities, including digital archives, metadata creation, and born-digital content. Through the research-based project, they will have the opportunity to engage with Reading’s unique publisher’s archives in an innovative way, and to develop further their research skills. If students wish, there is the potential to include their research in the Modernist Archives Publishing Project (MAPP). Planning, time management, co-operation and group work skills will also be developed through managing and conducting the collaborative project.


Outline content:

Topics and writers covered may include: J. B. Priestley; Virginia and Leonard Woolf; E. M. Delafield; Richard Aldington; James Hanley; Rosamond Lehmann; T. S. Eliot; James Joyce; selections from modernist and middlebrow magazines; small presses and DIY culture; BBC radio; book-of-the month clubs; publishers’ series; readers’ reports and editorial correspondence. Core textbook: Faye Hammill and Mark Hussey’s Modernism’s Print Cultures (2016).

Global context:

Discussions of the ways in which texts circulated in the early C20 book world are part of the module’s remit. This will include discussion of transatlantic publishing, translation and European book markets, and what were known as the British Empire markets and colonial editions.  

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 15
Tutorials 1
Practicals classes and workshops 4
Supervised time in studio/workshop 10
Guided independent study: 140 30
Total hours by term 170 30
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 40
Report 20
Project output other than dissertation 40

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will be assessed formally on an essay of 2500 words, or the equivalent placement report. 

They will also be assessed on a creative collaborative project output, which may take one of the following forms: an editorial/metadata project in UoR’s Publisher’s Archives and Special Collections (developed in consultation with module convenor); an original piece of biographical research on a lesser-known author, publisher or distributor of the period; a collaboratively-created magazine (or other form of creative output) exploring a topic raised in the module. In each case, the aims, methods, theory and contexts of the project output (40% of assessment) must be described and analysed in a supporting report that reflects upon the research process. This should include some form of textual analysis or explanation of your output and record your critical reflection (20% of assessment).


Formative assessment methods:

Students write a formative project proposal, of up to 1000 words, outlining aims, plan, and research methodology of collaborative project. Feedback will also be provided on the assessed essay, or the equivalent placement report.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    A mark of at least 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Coursework will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Otherwise is must be resubmitted.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 8 April 2019


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