The Book Review: Contemporary Forms, Forums, and Forces

deadline for submissions: 
October 7, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 

Academic literary critics have long eyed book reviewers, their public counterparts, with suspicion. For example, in The Armed Vision, a 1948 study of the methods of modern literary criticism, Stanley Edgar Hyman makes the following heavily weighted distinction, "the reviewer, more or less, is interested in books as commodities; the critic in books as literature." However, the past 15 years have seen a proliferation of forms and forums for online writing about books that combine the literary and the commodity in complex and interesting ways, deconstructing and reevaluating the distinctions between these terms. On social platforms like Goodreads, Amazon, Reddit, Tumblr, and Twitter, and in web-based magazines such as Bookslut, LA Review of Books, N+1, HTMLGiant, The Rumpus, The Millions, Entropy, The New Inquiry, and Full Stop, the book review has come to serve many heterogeneous functions in the public sphere. This roundtable seeks short papers that:

  • excavate the material, theoretical, and formal histories of book reviewing in its relationship to literary criticism
  • analyze the contemporary forms and forums of the book review and the social forces shaping them
  • strategize about how the book review might serve as a site beyond the academy at which new, productive, and sustainable networks might be forged between aesthetics, politics, and the book-as-commodity

Papers from academics, editors, and reviewers encouraged.

Please submit a proposal of up to 400 words here:

The format will be 10-15 minute papers followed by discussion. Deadline for submitting a proposal is October 7.