How global is Australian literature in the 21st century?
Using fields, networks and fifteen years of deal data to produce a materialist counter-narrative about nation-of-origin-specific conditions of access to the international marketplace.
At first glance, looking at fifteen years of Australian novels and the global market might seem a problematically broad topic for a PhD thesis. However, when the lense is sharped so the focus is solely on those published by mainstream publishers and for which translation or English-language rights have been licensed internationally, the subject immediately becomes far less broad and far more defined. When it is further sharpened by taking a quantitative approach, the target becomes clearer again. Add one more element—the sociological—and making it about understanding the specific rules of access to the transnational field of literary production for Australian authors by using a Bourdieusian theoretical framework informed by a Latourian Actor-Network descriptive approach and the project becomes manageable. More to the point, it becomes one that can offer, through a context-based, computer-assisted, spatio-temporal licensing model, a way to challenge a number of existing anecdotal, culturally-influenced, content-based theories about the factors that have made Australian literature become more international in the 21st century—and, in doing so, is also identify the threats posed to this process in an increasingly virtual, post-national, neo-liberal economic environment where even the concept of licensing as a publishing practice is contested.
Airlie Lawson is a doctoral candidate and part of the interdisciplinary and cross-cultural research program within the School of Archaeology and Anthropology. She has extensive licensing experience within the trade publishing industry, both in Australia and internationally. She’s also written a couple of books.