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A collective factory of literary heritage (19th-21st centuries)

Une fabrique collective du patrimoine littéraire (XIXe-XXIe siècle)

The collections of illustrated monographs

Les collections de biographies illustrées

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Published on Monday, March 02, 2015 by Céline Guilleux

Summary

During the 19th century, the book economy, in full expansion at the time, was marked by the appearance of series of works dedicated to authors. Whether these were biographies, portraits or critical essays, iconography, which was flourishing at the time as a result of new printing techniques, played an increasingly important role in them. Contributing to the construction of a literary heritage founded on the evocation of people presented as admirable and consecrated, these collections are an integral part of what a posteriori appeared to be a vast readership extension policy. The fact remains that if they marked the mediation of the literature and its history, they constitute a niche that is still relatively unknown in the editorial field, despite their impact on the book market and despite their link to literary matters.

Announcement

Argument

During the 19th century, the book economy, in full expansion at the time, was marked by the appearance of series of works dedicated to authors. Whether these were biographies, portraits or critical essays, iconography, which was flourishing at the time as a result of new printing techniques, played an increasingly important role in them. Contributing to the construction of a literary heritage founded on the evocation of people presented as admirable and consecrated, these collections are an integral part of what a posteriori appeared to be a vast readership extension policy. The fact remains that if they marked the mediation of the literature and its history, they constitute a niche that is still relatively unknown in the editorial field, despite their impact on the book market and despite their link to literary matters.

To take France as only one example, from the launch by Hachette of the collection “Les Grands écrivains français” (1887) towards the end of the 19th century to the “Albums de la Pléiade,” launched by Gallimard in 1960, by way of “Poètes d’au jourd’hui” (Seghers, 1944) and “Écrivains de toujours” (Le Seuil, 1951), these collections multiplied. Throughout the period, their functions in the field of criticism (and of the mediation of the literature) diversified at the same time as their forms.

These editorial series, which set out to offer the portrait of an author and his work, often combined texts relevant to different discourse genres (biography, criticism, anthology, interviews). In doing so, they introduced several authors: the biographer, at times the featured author himself (whether alive or not), witnesses to the author’s life, readers of his work, possibly the authors of the assembled pictures and, often in a less apparent fashion, the conceivers of the collection (publisher, director of the collection . . .) who shaped the particular layout of these works and their editorial identity. The discursive heterogeneity that characterized these volumes therefore combined almost systematically with a multi-auctoriality that expressed itself as much in the methods of making these volumes as in the design of their artwork.

If indeed portraiture is a genre that brings into play the relationship between the portrayed and the portrayer, the production of this type of work should be considered as the crucible of relationships among several agents. It is the nature of these relationships, and their different forms, that are to be interrogated within the framework of this issue of Mémoires du livre / Studies in Book Culture, from a perspective that combines the history of the book, the sociology of literature and discourse analysis.

Among the questions raised by these collections, we wish to address the following in particular:

  • What are the specific social systems that govern the creation of these works? What is the nature of the relationships among the various participants, whether it be the nature of the relationships of the featured authors, the critics or even the publishers? How are their interactions negotiated, and how are they expressed in the books (specifically, to what degree do these interactions participate in the representation of the featured authors’ social networks)?
  • How do the authors of these works position themselves in relation to the work and to the author that the works are meant to feature? What are the discursive means of implementation of the “participation” in the work, or, alternatively, of the distancing from it? What is the link between the positioning of the biographers within the literary field – or the critical field – and the posture they adopt when it comes to painting a portrait of someone else?
  • To what degree did the writers, among those who found themselves the subject of works of this type in their lifetime, take an interest in them, and even contribute in a direct fashion (in producing the work or in writing a part of it) or in directly (by advising or making suggestions, for example)? How did the same author react to the different works devoted to him?
  • According to what methods were the different types of texts (critical essays, biographies, excerpts from the work, interviews) and images (pictures of the authors, of their families, their homes, their manuscripts) combined, taking in to account, particularly, their various relationships to the featured work as well as the different people involved in the production of these volumes?

In short, this edition aims to shed light on a section of the modern critical space and of the history of the book from the angle of literary sociability methods and their discursive implementation.

Guidelines submission

Submissions for papers in either French or English, including an abstract of approximately 250 words and a short biographical note, should be sent to David Martens (david.martens[at]arts.kuleuven.be) and Mathilde Labbé (mathilde.labbe[at]gmail.com)

by 15 March 2015.

The editing committee will evaluate the proposals and render its decision by the end of March 2015. Selected contributors will be required to submit their paper 10 June 2015 after which a reading committee will issue their comments. Final versions are to be submitted by 30 September 2015 at the latest. Publication is scheduled for fall 2015.

This issue of the journal forms part of the research project “Factory Literary Heritage” financed by the FWO (The Research Foundation-Flanders–http://www.fwo.be) within the Interuniversity Attraction Pole program Literature and Media Innovations, (http://lmi.arts.kuleuven.be) subsidized by the Belgium Science Policy Office (www.belspo.be).

Date(s)

  • Sunday, March 15, 2015

Keywords

  • patrimoine littéraire, biographie illustrée

Contact(s)

  • David Martens
    courriel : david [dot] martens [at] kuleuven [dot] be
  • Mathilde Labbé
    courriel : mathilde [dot] labbe [at] univ-nantes [dot] fr

Information source

  • Mathilde Labbé
    courriel : mathilde [dot] labbe [at] univ-nantes [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« A collective factory of literary heritage (19th-21st centuries) », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, March 02, 2015, https://calenda.org/317857

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