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SHARP2020 Panel: The Bookstore as Agent for Change (CANCELLED DUE TO COVID19)

June 15 @ 8:00 am June 19 @ 5:00 pm

Sponsored by the BooksellerResearchNet with support from the Stephen Colclough Centre for the History and Culture of the Book and the UCL Centre for Publishing

“A bookstore is one of the few places where all the cantankerous, conflicting, alluring voices of the world co-exist in peace and order and the avid reader is as free as a person can possibly be, because she is free to choose among them.” (J. Smiley 1993). Smiley’s description of the multitude of voices in a bookstore, and the freedom that complexity creates, echoes Doreen Massey’s description of “the chance of space”, a location where unexpected intersections, of people, ideas and cultures can create the opportunity for new connections and for action that is not restricted by pre-existing structures. This bookstore space can outwit the curator, the corporate chain, the academic and the bookseller, creating unexpected opportunities for action and change. As such, the bookstore has historically been a meeting place for debate, planning and for action. This sponsored panel seeks to explore the relation between the bookstore (from its earliest inception to the contemporary) and cultural, social and political change. Papers are sought on the role of the bookstore as catalyst for change; as spaces of rebellion or activism; historical instances of the bookstore as places where change is planned or instigated; the role of bookstores in social, cultural or political movements; bookstores and community activism; bookstores as purveyors of misinformation — or defenders from misinformation; bookstores as agents of change.

Elizabeth West, University of Reading’s Special Collections. ‘Full of sound and pleasant vitality’: how the Bookshop for Boys and Girls and Bumpus’s Children’s Room influenced the development of American and British Children’s Literature

Anna Muenchrath, University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Books You May Like”: Amazon’s Algorithms and the Circulation of Global Literature

Eben Muse, Bangor University. The Defiant Bookstore: Bookselling as act of cultural defiance

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