Monday, 14 October 2013

Issue Four: CFP and Conference News!

Some exciting news about Issue Four of C21 Literature and a major conference in C21 writings next year below - click on the link to register!

Bloomsbury C21 Conference 2014: Towards A Twenty-First Century Literature
10-11 April 2014, Brighton, UK
Supported by: Bloomsbury Higher Education Academy UK Gylphi Myriad 3AM Magazine
Dr David James, Queen Mary London
Prof Philip Tew, Brunel University
Prof Lucy Armitt, University of Lincoln
Prof Robert Eaglestone, Royal Holloway
Call for Papers
As the twenty-first century enters its problematic teenage years, this conference examines how we define and understand C21 writings in English and the forms they take. This two day event will unite academics, publishers and creative writers to consider twenty-first century literary developments and how they have changed what we write and read today and the future of Literature in the twenty-first century. Proposals for conference papers of 20 mins may address, but are not limited to:
·         New Environments
·         Technology and Science
·         The Future of Theory
·         (Re)Writing the Past
·         Literary Forms, Old and New
·         Creative/Critical Interfaces
·         Digital Platforms and Social Media
·         Intertextuality and Interdisciplinary
PLUS we encourage specific calls for 15 mins papers for sponsored panels:
·         Teaching C21 Literature (HEA)
·         C21 Literary Criticism (Bloomsbury)
·         C21 Publishing (Gylphi)
·         First Fictions (Myriad)
·         Graphic Novels (Myriad)
·         C21 Literary Journalism (3AM) 
Publication Opportunity 
Presenters may submit their papers for Issue Four of C21 Literature, an international peer reviewed journal that aims to create a critical, discursive space for the promotion and exploration of 21st-century writings in English (
Deadline for 250 word abstracts is 6th January 2013 to
Student: £55.00 Waged: £99.00
Registration includes refreshments and lunch each day, as well as a Bloomsbury sponsored drinks reception on the evening of 10th April.

Registration includes refreshments and lunch each day, as well as a Bloomsbury sponsored drinks reception and a conference dinner on the evening of 10th April.

Contact: Please send any inquiries and/or abstracts to C21 administrator Marion Duggan:

Friday, 17 May 2013

Issue Three Call For Papers Announcement! Twenty-First Century Genre

So, at long last, here it is...the call for papers for Issue 2 of C21 Literature. We can exclusively reveal that the theme of our third issue will be twenty-first century genre - an area that will undoubtedly produce some interesting and inspired responses!

Authors should read the below call and submit FULL articles - not just abstracts! - by the deadline. We can't wait to read your work and look forward to posting exclusive news of commissioned articles on the blog later in 2013. 

Just as a reminder, we also encourage book reviews, conference reports and opinion pieces etc in response to the thematic call.


Genre has become an increasingly significant part of academic and popular criticism since the year 2000. From Steampunk to Crunch Lit, Young Adult to Nordic Noir, new genres have arisen to sustain fiction and popular culture markets in the new millennium. Issue three of C21 Literature asks if the politics of genre can offer insights into developments across the first thirteen years of the twenty-first century. If genre development is a process of evolution then how and where do these genres originate – and what are the intertextual and historical frames in which they operate? The journal calls for articles examining developments in genre across the twenty-first century. Topics may include:

• the history of literary genre
• multi-platformed genre developments
• new genres and authors
• cultural studies and genre
• politics and genre
• humour and genre
• academia and genre
• technology and genre
• popular culture and parody
• alternative histories
• old genres, new millennium

C21 Literature also seeks reviews, features and opinion pieces from academics, readers and writers and conference reports relating to twenty-first century genres.

Articles should be 6000–7000 words.

Reviews and conference reports should be 1000–2000 words. The journal uses the author/date Chicago style referencing system.

Full article submission, abstracts only will not be considered.

Please send all submissions, questions or enquiries to journal editor Dr Katy Shaw at

About The Journal
C21 Literature is an international peer reviewed journal that aims to create a critical, discursive space for the promotion and exploration of 21-st century writings in English. It addresses a range of narratives in contemporary culture, from the novel, poem and play to hypertext, digital gaming and contemporary creative writing. The journal features engaged theoretical pieces alongside new unpublished creative works and investigates the challenges that new media present to traditional categorizations of literary writing.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Granta's 2013 Best of Young British with The British Council

Like all the best secret missions, this one started with an email. In early February 2013 I was approached by the literary director of The British Council about a top secret project in partnership with Granta magazine. The mission – if I chose to accept it – was to read Granta’s new 2013 Best of Young British (BOYB) list and create a set of teaching materials for The British Council designed for delivery in universities across the world to promote the teaching of contemporary literature.

The British Council is the UK’s leading cultural relations organisation. The Literature department works with writers, publishers, producers, translators and other sector professionals across literature, publishing and education to develop innovative, high-quality literary programmes and collaborations that provide opportunities for cultural exchange and mutual understanding at festivals, book fairs, conferences, workshops and standalone events around the world.

Granta is the quarterly magazine featuring the best new writing from around the world. It was founded in 1889 by students at Cambridge University as The Granta, a periodical of student politics, student badinage and student literary enterprise, named after the river that runs through the town.  During the 1970s, it was re-launched with ten international editions of the magazine in countries including Brazil, Norway and China.  Best of Young British Novelists lists were published in 1983, 1993 and 2003. Best of Young American Novelists were published in 1996 and 2007. In 2010, Granta 113: The Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists was released, marking the first time in history that Granta’s Best of Young Novelists series looked outside the English-speaking world. Granta 121: The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists launched in 2012. Granta does not have a political or literary manifesto, but it does have a belief in the power and urgency of the story, both in fiction and non-fiction, and the story’s supreme ability to describe, illuminate and make real.

In partnership, The British Council and Granta wanted to commission a set of teaching materials based on the 2013 BOYB list, comprising two 90 minute lectures and powerpoints, twenty seminars and an introductory document. I chose to accept the mission. In six weeks, I would read twenty novels and write these materials on top of my own teaching, subject leading and the running of a new research centre. Somehow, it happened.

In early February, Granta called from a sealed room somewhere in London and read out the secret list with an even more secret set of rules. Each author on the list had been assigned a special number to avoid anyone intercepting the names on the list. I was not to communicate these authors or texts to anyone, or refer to them by name. I would deliver the teaching materials before the 15th April launch where I would meet the authors and hear the list announced live on BBC Radio Four.

In late February, I took delivery of twenty closely guarded novels from Foyles and began to slowly work my way through the towering pile. But with a growing sense of paranoia, and a number of press articles about my ‘secret’ project emerging, I became wary of keeping all twenty texts in a pile together (see pic below) and even of reading them on trains or in the office (too many literary colleagues). So the novels became scattered across my flat, turning my home into a Granta BOYB-style treasure hunt, and were largely read in the library, to ensure the list stayed as secret as possible. 

Reading the novels was probably my favourite part of this whole ‘job’. When do you ever get the chance to sit down and read twenty of the best new works in British fiction? Everyone should read a whole Granta BOYB list once in their lives, maybe just not in three weeks! Writing the materials proved harder – drawing together themes from twenty novels into one lecture, and a sweep of developments in C21 literature in another, proved a huge challenge. C21 literature is slippery by nature, resistant to catagorisation and enjoys playing at the edges of boundaries, thematic or otherwise. The texts of the 2013 BOYB are gloriously fluid and diverse and I hope this is something captured in the final teaching materials.

The announcement of the list at The British Council in London on 15th April 2013 was a great (and hugely oversubscribed) event, that united publishers, authors, publicists and staff from Granta. While the list was read out by Granta’s editor, there was a real sense of beginnings, of how these individuals would shape representations of the coming time and the world around us. As a celebration of the relevance of the novel form and the health of new writing, the launch party acted as a timely reminder of the vitality of British literature in the new millennium.

Everyone can pick up the 2013 BOYB novels and be guaranteed an amazing reading experience. I would like to thank Doug at The British Council and Saskia at Granta for offering support and Twitter-based enthusiasm for the duration of my secret mission. Hopefully the teaching materials will bring these texts to a host of new places and open them up to readers around the world. Granta and The British Council have done a fantastic job in collating the writers who will define the next ten years. As the authors head off around the globe and Granta takes to the road in the UK, watch out for the 2013 BOYB coming to a town or country near you soon. Mission accomplished. 

Monday, 21 January 2013

Issue One Launch

 C21 Literature will launch in print on 28.01.13. 

For contributors and subscribers, the first issue is already online and available through the website. 

The process of creating, commissioning and seeing an internationally peer reviewed journal through to publication has been a pleasurable experience, but also a huge learning curve for the team. We are very happy with the first issue and look forward to innovating and developing the journal in response to your future thoughts and needs.

A keyword in our field is diversity and we hope the first issue of C21 Literature captures this spirit through a range of creative and critical works. As Jago Morrison famously argued, C21 literatures are ‘anything but homogeneous. On the contrary, they are interesting precisely for their ability to locate themselves in the interstices – the spaces between national cultures, genders and histories’ (Morrison 2003: 7).  

The authors under examination in C21 Literature talk back, they can be emailed, googled or tweeted, give opinions, change their minds and comment frequently about literary criticism of their works. The field of C21 Literature is exciting not in spite of, but precisely due to this dynamic inter-activity. This journal is firmly situated in and seeks to reflect, inform and represent a field that is still in formation as part of that process of becoming. 

No single issue can offer an exhaustive or definitive survey of this ever-expanding field. Instead, our first issue offers a smorgasbord-style selection, exploring a selected range of themes, concepts and theories based on writing published since the new millennium.

We hope you enjoy Issue One and look forward to receiving your feedback.

Dr Katy Shaw and the C21 Literature Team

Friday, 20 July 2012

What Happens Now? It's Conference Season....

It’s July, it’s raining, it’s less than two months until C21 Literature went on tour! On 2ndJuly 2012, the University of Brighton and the HEA devoted a whole day to examining new issues, genres, forms and technologies of writing, as well as investigating contemporary theory and criticism and the publication, circulation and teaching of post-millennial writings. The Teaching Post-Millennial Literature symposium united forty five intergenerational scholars—from PhD candidates and ECRs to renowned Professors and senior academics, as well as creative writers and academic publishers including Continuum Bloomsbury, Palgrave and Gylphi—to debate the opportunities and challenges of teaching post-millennial literature.

Offering a platform for engaged theoretical responses, alongside practice-based creative case studies, papers examined post-millennial evolutions in writing since the year 2000, presenting the emerging field of twenty-first century literature as a new and directional source of understanding and creative inspiration. Events were tweeted live and a record of discussions, presentations and photographs from the day can be found at #HEAdayC21. A full report from the symposium will also appear on the HEA Literature Subject Centre website from Autumn 2012.

Later in the month,  discussions relocated North to Lincioln. Headed up by Sian Adiseshiah and Rupert Hildyard, the second bi-annual What Happens Now? conference (16-18 July) united academics, PhD students and writers from across the globe for three days of discussions and readings. Prof Peter Boxall offered keynotes at both Brighton and Lincoln, reflecting on the environmental disaster novel and its predictions for the future of both the novel form and narrative prose in the twenty-first century. His paper at Lincoln focused on McCarthy’s The Road (2006) to reveal the ways in which the novel might name an unnameable present and offer a utopian future gift to the world at a time of transition.

Other panels on the opening day concentrated on the rise of Dave Eggers, the retro-revisiting of the 1970s and 80s in popular fiction and culture, mediating digital experiences of literature and writing comedy in twenty-first century narratives. With readings from Geoff Dyer, Tishani Doshi and Kathleen Jamie, the event was testament to the range and vibrancy of debates underway in this emerging field of literary and cultural studies. C21 Literature enjoyed a preview night as part of What Happens Now? at the Hilton skylight bar overlooking Lincoln Cathedral. With many of the contributors to our first issue in attendance, the night gave us the rare chance to meet some of the brilliant authors whose work will feature in our launch issue this Autumn. The night also provided the opportunity to announce that the second issue of C21 Literature will be guest edited by Sian and Rupert and will feature a range of papers premiered at the conference. Look out for a CFP in October for this 2013 second (REF-able!) Issue.

Issue One will launch this Autumn – for more details, to subscribe, or to find details of the CFP for Issue Two from October, please visit:, add us at or follow us on

Monday, 23 April 2012

Teaching Post-Millennial Literature

A quick blog post about an exciting upcoming event organised by the Editor of C21 Literature. This one day symposium is co-hosted by the Higher Education Academy for the UK and by the University of Brighton, Faculty of Arts. It offers the unique opportunity to share and exchange ideas about the challenges and possibilities of teaching C21 Literature. And a free lunch. Who said there was no such thing...? Read on, submit a paper and/or sign up - places are strictly limited!

Teaching Post-Millennial Literature

2nd Jul 2012
Checkland, Falmer Campus
A one-day symposium organised through the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and the Faculty of Arts, University of Brighton

Cost: FREE (Space Strictly Limited)

Deadline for proposals: 15th May 2012

Keynote 1: Dr David James (University of Nottingham)
Keynote 2: Prof Peter Boxall (University of Sussex)

The first decade of the new millennium witnessed a range of exciting developments in English Literature. From innovations in recognised forms such as the novel, poem, play and short story to developments in blogging, digital writings, new media, creative writing and new genre and trends from Steampunk to Slash, Nordic Noir to Faction. Alongside these developments, the publishing industry also changed, with technological advances giving rise to the dawn of the eBook and corporate sponsorship igniting debates about the usefulness of literary prizes and festivals.

This unique one day event will reflect on the teaching of post-millennial literature in HE and FE to offer the emerging field of twenty-first century literature as a new and directional source of understanding and creative inspiration for contemporary students and scholars.

Proposals for 20 minute papers may address, but are not limited to:

Post-Millennial forms, genres and trends
New authors
Literary prizes and festivals
Adaptations and innovations
Digital writings and publishing
Book clubs
Creative writing

For those giving papers, all travel expenses will be covered by the HEA

For those wishing to attend, the symposium - including refreshments and lunch - is free, but spaces are strictly limited and early registration is vital

To send a paper proposal (150 words by 15th May) or register for a place at this event please email 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Reading Room

The following post is a guest blog by C21 Literature Deputy Editor Prof Deborah Philips:

China MiĆ©ville, Deborah Moggach, Joanna Trollope and Zadie Smith are among the 21st-century writers who have been vociferous in the defence of their local libraries. Jeanette Winterson and Alan Bennett are only two among the many contemporary authors who have written movingly about the significance that libraries have played in their lives, both have written not only about the importance of access to books, but also of the significance of the fact that the library provided a quiet space to read, and a validation of that reading. Bennett has also written a fantasy, The Uncommon Reader, of what it might mean for the nation if our own dear Queen were to discover a mobile library at the back of Buckingham Palace. Sadly, this is now even more unlikely than it once was, as mobile libraries are steadily being cut by local council.

Despite the fact that under the 1964 Museums and Public Libraries Act, local authorities are required to provide a 'comprehensive and efficient service to all', local authorities were required by the coalition government to make stringent cut backs in their budgets and given a target to reduce spending by 28%. Libraries were made to compete for funding with services for children and the elderly; in 2011, up to 800 libraries, a fifth of the number across England, were threatened with closure.

In London, Brent has closed six out of 12 local libraries, among them the Kensal Rise library, which had been opened by Mark Twain in 1900 and which could count Zadie Smith among its readers. Across the country, 32 libraries have closed and some have been turned into benign sounding 'community libraries'.  The libraries were a key component in the Conservative strategy of a 'Big Society' – understood as eminently open to being run by volunteers. Eight libraries to date are run by the local community; this means a library staffed not by librarians, with all their specialist knowledge and experience, but by volunteers who may have good will, but no training.

Another strategy to keep libraries open has been the outsourcing of library 'management'. Camden Council has been one of those considering employing a management company, and among the names considered is that of W. S. Atkins, who are among the corporations circling to take over from local authority management. W. S.  Atkins describe themselves as a 'multi-national management and consultancy company';but its origins are in engineering and building, and the founder was an evangelical Christian, an ethos that still prevails in the company (in itself a disconcerting qualification for running libraries). W.S. Atkins have experience of running libraries in America, where they have been sacked for mismanagement. It is also worth asking why it is that a company based in construction and engineering should have a particular interest in library buildings, which in England tend to be rather impressive structures, often based in central positions in a town or city.

Ken Worpole's research has demonstrated what a vital resource the public library is for communities, and for individuals.  His 2003 report Better Public Libraries shows how important they are particularly for young people and for the elderly, for the disadvantaged and the unemployed. They now provide not just newspapers but access to the Internet and he shows that the library as a public space is a significant place of transition and reflection;a space between school and home, between work and the domestic which is of particular importance to refugee and ethnic minority populations.

My own experience supports Worpole's arguments; this is anecdotal evidence, but it is telling. I live in a mansion block in Central London, and my nearest neighbours are a family from Somalia.  Six years ago, the eldest brother, knowing that I was a teacher of some kind, knocked on my door and asked if I could help his younger brother and sister, then aged 10 and 12, with their reading and writing.  After several weeks of rather dull homework sessions with me, I thought the best thing I could do for them was to haul them off to the local library. At the library we found a dedicated room and a librarian on hand to advise, stocked with computers, shelves of text books and reference books directly related to the school syllabus.  We also found rows of age appropriate fiction and DVDs, and piles of leaflets with advice on everything from how to apply to college, to finding a woman only swimming class appropriate for a young Muslim.  For the next two years, it became a Saturday morning ritual to go to the library, often with a troop of small friends and relations in tow. Six years on, the younger brother is now in his first year at university, while his sister did spectacularly well in her GCSEs, and is planning to go on to do medicine. I can take no credit for their achievements, but the library can. It provided them with information, computer space that they did not have to fight for, and, perhaps most importantly, a quiet space that was designed to support study. The library offered possibilities and potential, which they took that up and ran with.

Alan Bennett is among the local people active in the campaign to Save Primrose Hill Library. In an interview with Camden New Journal, he describes seeing a child signing up for her first library card with her younger brother.  She was, Bennett said embarking on a lifetime of reading, 'That's why  you can't quantify what the library means, because it so much the future for children like that and children who wouldn't have not merely the books, but a place to read' (Camden New Journal, 23/2/2012). Those children could have been my neighbours - who had no books at home, and nowhere to read. They all represent children across the country who depend on the library for their futures.  As Bennett argues:  'The library set you up for life. . . it is something that you should take for granted really. Libraries should be taken for granted, it is one of the things that
marks us as civilised, as a civilised community'.

Libraries can no longer be taken for granted. Public Libraries News has a 'Horror Section' on its websites with reports of impending closures, cuts to hours, book stocks and qualified staff; according to their figures, 407 libraries are now at risk of closure with more expected after the new financial year. Local libraries are at threat across the country and there is a campaign near you.