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Dr Emmett Stinson

Lecturer

School of Humanities and Social Science (English and Writing)

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

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.

Dr Emmett Stinson

Australian literature faces digital challenges

With the publishing industry facing unprecedented challenges from digital technologies and global competition, what does the future hold for Australia?

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Career Summary

Biography

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.



Qualifications

  • PhD, University of Melbourne
  • Master in Creative Writing, University of Adelaide

Keywords

  • Contemporary Literature
  • Digital Literature
  • Modern Literature
  • Publishing
  • Satire

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
200599 Literary Studies not elsewhere classified 100

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Humanities and Social Science
Australia
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Book (4 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Stinson E, Satirizing Modernism Aesthetic Autonomy, Romanticism, and the Avant-Garde, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 192 (2017)
2016 Stinson E, Mannion A, Carter D, Couper S, Davis M, Driscoll B, 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 (2011) [A1]
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Chapter (6 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Stinson ES, 'Little Magazines in the Digital Sphere', Creating Space in the Fifth Estate, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK (2017)
2016 Stinson ES, Mannion A, 'Post-Digital Publishing: An Introduction', The Return of Print? Contemporary Australian Publishing, Monash University Publishing, Clayton, Victoria vii-xii (2016) [B1]
2016 Stinson ES, 'Small Publishers and the Miles Franklin Award', The Return of Print? Contemporary Australian Publishing, Monash University Publishing, Clayton, Victoria 137-148 (2016) [B1]
2013 Stinson ES, 'Introduction', By the Book? Contemporary Publishing in Australia, Monash University Publishing, Clayton, Victoria vii-xii (2013)
2013 Stinson ES, 'In the Same Boat: Transnationalism, Australian Short Fiction, and the New Cultural Cringe', By the Book? Contemporary Publishing in Australia, Monash University Publishing, Clayton, Victoria 89-102 (2013)
2009 Stinson ES, 'Literary and Cultural Contexts: Major Figures, Institutions, Topics, Events', The Modernism Handbook, Bloomsbury Academic, London 43-65 (2009)
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Journal article (11 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2016 Stinson ES, 'How Nice Is Too Nice? Australian Book Reviews and the 'Compliment Sandwich'', Australian Humanities Review, (2016) [C1]
2016 Stinson ES, 'Wyndham Lewis¿s Cosmopolitanism: On Historicity and Modernist Studies', Affirmations: Of the Modern, 4 169-186 (2016) [C1]
2016 Stinson ES, 'Small Publishers and the Emerging Network of Australian Literary Prosumption', Australian Humanities Review, 23-43 (2016) [C1]
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]
2014 Stinson ES, 'Aggregating the Digital Distribution of Australian Small Publishers, 2010-13', The International Journal of the Book, 12 13-22 (2014)
2013 Stinson ES, 'The Work of Art As Paradigm: Giorgio Agamben and the Relationship Between Knowledge and the Creative Arts', New Scholar, 2 1-12 (2013)
2012 Stinson ES, ''The Vortex as Ontology in The Apes of God: Self-Reflexive Satire and Apophaticism', The Journal of Wyndham Lewis Studies, 3 123-142 (2012)
2012 Stinson ES, 'Essentially Counterfeit: The Abyss of False Bottoms in Wyndham Lewis's The Revenge for Love', Antithesis, 9-18 (2012)
2011 Stinson ES, 'Vanity Fair: Why Publishers Need to Take Self-Publishing Seriously', Overland, 63-70 (2011)
2010 Stinson ES, 'The Pirate Code', Overland, 63-70 (2010)
Show 8 more journal articles

Creative Work (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2010 Stinson ES, Known Unknowns, Melboourne (2010)
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 4
Total funding $46,459

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20172 grants / $40,933

New tastemakers and Australia's post-digital literary culture$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
Scheme Discovery Projects
Role Lead
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2019
GNo G1700199
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON Y

Australian writing after the internet$13,500

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts

Funding body University of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts
Project Team

Dr Emmett Stinson; Dr Keri Glastonbury; A/Prof Justin Clemens; Dr Lachlan Brown

Scheme FEDUA Strategic Networks and Pilot Projects (SNaPP)
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2017
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

20161 grants / $4,626

Mediating Australian Literature: Small Publishers and Post-Digital Culture$4,626

Funding body: The University of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts | Australia

Funding body The University of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts | Australia
Project Team

Emmett Stinson

Scheme FEDUA New Staff Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2016
Funding Finish 2016
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

20141 grants / $900

Traverses: J.M. Coetzee in the World, Adelaide, Australia, 11 - 13 November 2014$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
Scheme Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2014
Funding Finish 2014
GNo G1401209
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed0
Current9

Total current UON EFTSL

Masters0.35
PhD3.65

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2017 PhD Shoot the Wild Birds/ Ethics and thrills in the novels of John D MacDonald PhD (English), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
2017 PhD Social Poetics - Poetry as Post, or Post as Poetry 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), 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 Poem as Community: Plurality and Contemporary Australian Poetry PhD (English), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
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Dr Emmett Stinson

Position

Lecturer
School of Humanities and Social Science
Faculty of Education and Arts

Focus area

English

Contact Details

Email emmett.stinson@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4921 5169

Office

Room MC134
Building McMullin Building
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia
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