Dr Emmett Stinson
School of Humanities and Social Science (English and Writing)
- Phone:(02) 4921 5169
Australian literature faces digital challenges
With the publishing industry facing unprecedented challenges from digital technologies and global competition, what does the future hold for contemporary Australian literary publishing?
Dr Emmett Stinson is an author, literary critic and lecturer whose years of experience in the publishing industry in Australia and the United States inform his research into literary production.
“My current research suggests that the publication of literary works is increasingly undertaken by small, independent publishers rather than large, multinational publishing houses,” Emmett said.
Emmett explained that, in the past, large publishing companies produced many literary works, not because they made money, but because literary publishing was viewed as a mark of excellence. As many scholars have demonstrated, however, publishers’ practices changed in the 1990s. Due to the pressures of global competition and the availability of better customer purchasing data, large publishers increasingly focus on profitable, popular genres.
Most countries around the globe believe that literature has inherent value . . . Why don’t we value it?
“There are all kinds of potential problems with having literary works mediated in this way,” Emmett explained.
“The obvious effect is average sales for mid-list literary novels have halved. Because small publishers have limited distribution networks, they generally don’t get their books into shops like Target and Kmart, for example, which are 30 percent of the market.
“A novel from a small publisher is doing well to sell 3,000 to 4,000 copies, and this means that they will pay authors lower advances. Potential readerships are also more limited, but not because smaller publishers are bad. They just don’t have access to the large networks for dissemination.”
He argues that these material changes to literary production have not been reflected in important literary institutions, such as prizes.
“Even though most works are published by small publishers, awards like the Miles Franklin Award overwhelmingly favour books produced by the large publishers. Since the year 2000, works by small publishers have accounted for only 19 percent of Miles Franklin shortlisted titles and only 17 percent of winning novels.”
Moreover, recent changes to government funding models – such as the Catalyst initiative –have tended to privilege large arts organisations over smaller ones. Emmett said this presents a serious threat to Australian literature, which overwhelmingly relies on the efforts of a handful of smaller publishers, many of whom depend on modest government subsidies.
“Literary works have never sold very well in Australia, but traditionally people have bought into the importance of national culture and wanted to support literary works even if they didn’t read them. But since the 1990s, the publishing industry has decided all that really matters is book sales,” he said.
“This position, as Dr Mark Davis from the University of Melbourne has noted, reflects a broader privatisation of the public sphere undertaken by neoliberal governments throughout the Western world.
“Literature’s importance cannot be captured by commercial measures. Most countries around the globe believe that literature has inherent value, and that it is an enriching form that requires funding and support. Why don’t we value it?
“Australia is a small country. If we want our culture to compete internationally, then we need our Government to fund authors and publishers properly through grants.”
Emmett has previously served as an advocate for Australian small publishers. In 2007 he co-founded the Small Press Network, which was formed to promote independent publishing and support the principle of diversity within the publishing industry as a vital component of Australian literary culture. It currently represents more than 100 small, independent publishers across Australia.
From 2011 to 2013, Emmett served on the Federal Book Industry Strategy Group instigated by Australian Senator Kim Carr – the former Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research for Higher Education. This initiative was set-up to investigate how the Federal Government could renew the sector.
At the University of Newcastle, Emmett teaches and researches modern and contemporary literature, including 20th century modernist literature and contemporary literary production.
Emmett’s essays, fiction and poetry have appeared in various literary journals and his book of short stories, Known Unknowns, was shortlisted for the Steele Rudd Award in 2011.
Emmett Stinson holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Melbourne (2014), an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Adelaide (2005), and a BA/Hons in English Literature from Georgetown University. He was a Lecturer in the Publishing and Communications program at the University of Melbourne (2010-14) before taking up his current position at the University of Newcastle. His main areas of research interest include modernist literature, contemporary literature, publishing studies, and satire.Research Expertise
Emmett Stinson is a literary critic whose research covers two main fields of inquiry. The first field is modern and contemporary literature. His work in this area has examined satiric novels after modernism, the influence of romantic aesthetics on modernism, and the persistence of modernist aesthetics in 'late' or contemporary forms. In particular, his research has focused on such authors as Wyndham Lewis, William Gaddis, Gilbert Sorrentino, and Evan Dara. His other field of research is contemporary Australian publishing. Drawing on fifteen years of practical experience in Australia and abroad, his research focuses on small and independent publishers, literary publishing, and the changes wrought on the industry by digital technologies and global competition.
- PhD, University of Melbourne
- Master in Creative Writing, University of Adelaide
- Contemporary Literature
- Modern Literature
Fields of Research
|200599||Literary Studies not elsewhere classified||100|
|Title||Organisation / Department|
|Lecturer||University of Newcastle
School of Humanities and Social Science
For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.
Book (3 outputs)
|2016||Stinson E, Mannion A, Carter D, Couper S, Davis M, OÂ¿Shaughnessy T, et al., The Return of Print? Contemporary Australian Publishing, Monash University Publishing, Clayton, Victoria, 208 (2016)|
|2013||Stinson ES, By the book?: Contemporary Publishing in Australia, Monash University Publishing, Clayton, Victoria, 161 Pages (2013)|
|2011||Pennell CR, Pryde P, Stinson ES, Banning Islamic Books in Australia, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Victoria, 194 Pages (2011)|
Chapter (5 outputs)
|2016||Stinson ES, Mannion A, 'Post-Digital Publishing: An Introduction', The Return of Print? Contemporary Australian Publishing, Monash University Publishing, Clayton, Victoria vi-xii (2016)|
|2016||Stinson ES, 'Small Publishers and the Miles Franklin Award', The Return of Print? Contemporary Australian Publishing, Monash University Publishing, Clayton, Victoria 132-132 (2016)|
|2013||Stinson ES, 'Introduction', By the Book? Contemporary Publishing in Australia, Monash University Publishing, Clayton, Victoria vii-xii (2013)|
|Show 2 more chapters|
Journal article (11 outputs)
|2016||Stinson ES, 'How Nice Is Too Nice? Australian Book Reviews and the Â¿Compliment SandwichÂ¿', Australian Humanities Review, (2016)|
|2016||Stinson ES, 'Wyndham LewisÂ¿s Cosmopolitanism: On Historicity and Modernist Studies', Affirmations: Of the Modern, 4 169-186 (2016)|
|2016||Stinson ES, 'Small Publishers and the Emerging Network of Australian Literary Prosumption', Australian Humanities Review, (2016)|
|2015||Stinson ES, 'Quiet Conversations in a Very Noisy Room', Sydney Review of Books, (2015) [C1]|
|2014||Stinson ES, 'Remote Viewing', Sydney Review of Books, (2014) [C3]|
|Show 8 more journal articles|
Creative Work (1 outputs)
|2010||Stinson ES, Known Unknowns, Melboourne (2010)|
Grants and Funding
|Number of grants||2|
Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.
20171 grants / $27,433
Funding body: ARC (Australian Research Council)
|Funding body||ARC (Australian Research Council)|
|Project Team||Mark Davis, Beth Driscoll, Sybil Nolan, Doctor Emmett Stinson|
|Type Of Funding||Aust Competitive - Commonwealth|
20141 grants / $900
Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts
|Funding body||University of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts|
|Project Team||Doctor Emmett Stinson|
|Type Of Funding||Internal|
Number of supervisions
Total current UON EFTSL
|Commenced||Level of Study||Research Title||Program||Supervisor Type|
|2016||PhD||The Stories Behind the Status of the Torres Strait Islander Migrants in Mainland Australia||PhD (English), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle||Co-Supervisor|
|2016||PhD||The Stories Behind the Status of the Torres Strait Islander Migrants in Mainland Australia||PhD (English), The Wollotuka Institute, The University of Newcastle||Co-Supervisor|
|2016||PhD||What Are You Afraid Of? Pretraumatic American Literature in the Anthropocene||PhD (English), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle||Principal Supervisor|
|2015||PhD||Tarare||PhD (English), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle||Co-Supervisor|
|2015||PhD||How is Performance Writing Evolving in Oceania?||PhD (English), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle||Co-Supervisor|
|2015||Masters||Brides of Terror: Marital Anxiety and the Consumer Society in Modern Gothic Romance||M Philosophy (English), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle||Principal Supervisor|
|2015||PhD||Implied Politics and the Politics of Language in Australian Poetic Contemporaneity||PhD (English), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle||Co-Supervisor|
Dr Emmett Stinson
School of Humanities and Social Science
Faculty of Education and Arts
|Phone||(02) 4921 5169|
Callaghan, NSW 2308