Workshop 2

Book Cultures, Book Events – Workshop II Dr David McGillivray summarises the themes which emerged from the Book Cultures workshop in Dundee on 24 July 2012, ranging from the conceptual/research questions that emerged to the methodological approaches that the emerging partnership might employ to investigate book festivals/literary events. Book/literary festivals as live experiential events:

  • Embodiment (authors, audiences)
  • Experiential (sociability, affective domain, design, performance)

Book festivals and taste publics Understanding the ‘capital’ of book festivals/literacy events as illustrations of specific taste publics coming together to share their cultural preferences. Draw on the work of Bourdieu to understand the durable dispositions affected by these ‘spaces’ and their culturally reproductive role – including paying attention to the possible ‘strategies’ employed by individuals and others to transform their habitus within and through the field of literacy festivals. The sorts of questions we might ask could include:

  • What role do literary festivals play in reproducing cultural taste in their design, approved mode of performance, structure, funding and support for wider cultural infrastructure?
  • How successful are literary festivals in enabling those not in receipt of educational cultural capital to employ strategies to facilitate participation in the literacy festivals (e.g. looking at demographic of audience over time, impact of festival back into wider ‘public’, tracking participation over a period of time)
  • What interventions are in place to facilitate and support access to literary festivals from outside its existing audience around the formal event and in the wider festival ecosystem (e.g. libraries, schools, public events, etc)

Book festivals as a complex ecosystem Understanding complex ecosystem of book festivals/literary events and their ‘impact’ or ‘value’ for various ‘actors’ (authors/performers, audiences, organisers, funders, others stakeholders). Going beyond superficial ‘measurement’ of outcomes based on pre-defined performance indicators laid down by stakeholders to investigate the complex, negotiated ‘meanings’ that book festivals represent to a range of actors:

  • Cultural (contribution to cultural policy, facilitating intellectual debate, space for creative practice, etc)
  • Artistic (celebrity vs critically acclaimed, performance, international recognition)
  • Social (contribution to ‘reading cultures’, widening taste culture for literary products, community asset, pride in local area etc)
  • Economic (cultural tourism, additionality, jobs, supply chain, media coverage, etc)
  • Digital (online/offline relations, digital sociability and reading)

Exploring the ‘market’ or ‘economy’ of book festivals/literary events

  • The quantity of events, their genre, size and scale and overall economic contribution in Scotland
  • Classification of book festival/literary events in Scotland according to their objectives, genre and overall purpose (e.g):
    • – Internationally relevant (recognized as part of an international literary festival circuit, attracting audiences from outside of Scotland including internationally, in receipt of national funding and showcased as part of wider Scottish cultural tourism offering)
    • – Nationally significant (attractive to audiences from outside locale, attracting established authors nationally and, perhaps, internationally, in receipt of national funding and promoted as part of national cultural tourism offering)
    • – Locally significant (community asset, part of regional offering, tied to local infrastructure and dependent on local sponsors and public agency support, predominantly local audiences travelling short distances)
    • – The most prevalent business models for operating book festivals/literary events (e.g. single event or multi-event ticketing), proportion of public funding vis-à-vis sponsorship, book sales etc,
    • – Extend of professionalization of the book festival/literary event sector in Scotland (e.g. involvement of professional festival organisers, volunteerism and the labour process involved in book festivals/literary events, the informal economy)

Book festivals in the Digital Age

  • The relationship between ‘live’ (f2f) events and their digital promotion and interaction with audiences as part of a ‘digital sociability’
  • Extent of online marketing and promotion of book festivals online
  • Experience of crowdfunding using available social networks
  • Engagement of audiences/authors and other stakeholders online to build audience/community, extend reach and deepen conversation with stakeholders
  • Extent to which the digital world opens up space to share literary interests with other communities of interest
  • Mapping existing book festivals/literary events, indicators of connectedness and relationships between them. Development of interactive map to illuminate the diversity of book festivals in Scotland

Methodological notes

  • Need for more involved, in-depth, longitudinal research into significance of the cultural practices involved in the conception, planning, delivery and ongoing activities that make up the production of a book/literary festival
  • Building on the one off ‘snapshot’ data produced by the Book Festivals Scotland research but with a focus on the historical, geographical, cultural and anthropological significance of selected Scottish festivals to their place, community (defined beyond locality) and cultural environment
  • Emphasising the ‘impact’ of book festivals/literary events as a catalyst for greater participation based on:
    • – Participation in book cultures facilitated through schools, book clubs, universities/colleges, websites/open resources/public events and lectures and libraries
    • – Exploring the use of innovative methodologies including oral histories, digital storytelling, ethnographic interventions, interviews/audio capture as a practice and research tool, cultural mapping etc
    • – Creative capture and ‘archive’ of book festivals/literary events (e.g. audio recordings/interviews, social media activity, blogging and storifying)

Dr David McGillivray, July 25th 2012 Workshop Attendees: David Finkelstein, University of Dundee Claire Squires, University of Stirling Douglas McNaughton, Queen Margaret University Adam Reed, University of St Andrews David McGillivray, University of the West of Scotland Padmini Ray Murray, University of Stirling Gail Low, University of Dundee Valentina Bold, University of Glasgow Jonathan Wild, University of Edinburgh Peggy Hughes, Edinburgh UNESCO World City of Literature Anna Day, Dundee Literary Festival/Dundee University Press Bob McDevitt, Dundee Literary Festival/University of Dundee Literary Development Officer Julia Jahansoozi, University of Stirling Anne Findlay, University of Stirling Leigh Sparks, University of Stirling