Anne H. Stevens on Circulating and Subscription Libraries: Institutions as Creators of Genres

By msangster

(Many thanks to Anne Stevens for providing an edited text of the brilliant talk that she gave at the ‘Institutions as Actors’ workshop, along with a copy of her PowerPoint.)


Circulating and Subscription Libraries: Institutions as Creators of Genres

Anne H. Stevens, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

In his opening remarks at the first of the “Institutions of Literature” workshops, in Glasgow, Matthew Sangster talked about the fundamental role of institutions in shaping literature through networking, validation, funding, dissemination, and commemoration. To this list I would add, as the title of my paper suggests, genre creation. That is, I see the creation of genres as fundamentally a collective effort, one in which institutional actors play a significant role. While individuals create works, institutions and the networks in which they are enmeshed create genres.

In his Course in General Linguistics, Ferdinand de Saussure describes a similar dynamic in relation to the way languages change over time. An individual can coin a new word, but that coinage does not become a part of a language until other members of the linguistic community utilize the word and institutions validate it. Just as languages are not the product merely of individual creativity …read more

Source:: http://institutionsofliterature.net/2017/12/04/anne-h-stevens-on-circulating-and-subscription-libraries/