The Publishing Sphere: Ecosystems of Contemporary Literatures

The Publishing Sphere: Ecosystems of Contemporary Literatures

Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)

Gregor Weichbrodt, Subtitle buoy, 2017. Twitter profile for the bot @subtitle_buoy. Photo: National Data Buoy Center, NOAA.

March 27, 2017
The Publishing Sphere: Ecosystems of Contemporary Literatures

June 13–14, 2017

Haus der Kulturen der Welt
John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10
10557 Berlin

T +49 (0)30 39787 – 0
[email protected]
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A workshop, conference, and radio show—convened by Lionel Ruffel (Université Paris 8) with Annette Gilbert (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg) and Franziska Morlok (Fachhochschule Potsdam).

Lionel RuffelAnnette GilbertFranziska Morlok

Publication is one of the key concepts of the contemporary, as literature was one of the key concepts of modernity. Guided by this tenet, the event will look into publishing as an emerging sphere disrupting the 19th century idea of a literary culture focused on the image of the solitary author, cooped up in his office-workshop, in direct contact with his editors, and speaking in absentia to a large and anonymous public through the medium of the book. Today, publishing is returning to its original meaning: to go public, from a private expression intended for specific correspondents to one intended for more and more diverse audiences.

Today, the whole of human communications is producing a publishing sphere, due to the democratization of tools formerly limited to privileged authorities, notably the publishers. Thus, an abundance of literary practices has evolved—performances, public readings, sound and visual work, fieldwork, literary residencies, creative writing courses—all of which have grown exponentially, engaging not only new aesthetics but also a new literary economy that is not solely based on copyright and the sale of books. Never before has the kingdom of writing been so vast, never before has the idea of publication been so plural. A day doesn’t pass without some large part of humanity publishing at least one text: on a blog, a social network, or another platform.

In short, publishing has become an artistic practice—a practice that can be creatively studied much like curating. And it has a political output, too: if it is true that the imaginary of modern literature embodies the fantasy of a “good” public sphere of democracy, then we must find out what kinds of societies are emerging from this plural, heterogeneous, and agonistic publishing sphere. The conference and workshop aim at just that. Scholars, artists, agents of literature as well as representatives of projects and initiatives have been called upon to submit pre-reflections, research notes, image materials, literary references, or lists of titles emblematic of the transformations of the publishing sphere. These will provide the groundwork—in the form of an anthology put together and designed by the students of Franziska Morlok at FH Potsdam—for the program: the two-day event will alternate between round table discussions, performative miniature elements, workshop reach-outs, prologues, and literary readings.

Events will revolve around four main topics: Sites to investigate the different locations of contemporary literatures between an abstract “sphere” and a material “space”; Protocols to understand what constitutes a literary work beyond the materiality of the book and which agents/players inhabit the field; Attention because literary production must proactively cope with a surcharge of information and the power of distraction derived from this abundance; Imaginaries as literary cultures are best understood by the imaginary worlds they themselves put in place.

Sites ProtocolsAttentionImaginaries

Students of literature, the arts, and related sectors are invited to join the experts in the field. Applications are welcome at [email protected]. Please be aware that for reasons of space, only a limited number of applications can be accepted. The conference will be held in English.

[email protected][email protected]

Live radio show
On June 14 Radio Brouhaha, launched during the event, will convene and stream live an evening program of performative live publishing: talks and conversations, sounds of ambiance and infrastructure, readings, sound performances, interventions, etc.—guided by the four topics mentioned above. The Publishing Sphere will be the first issue of Radio Brouhaha, a project developed by Lionel Ruffel and Continent as an audio collective history of the contemporary.

Live radio show
stream livestream liveThe Publishing SphereContinentContinent

Participants will be Kirill Medvedev, Caroline Bergvall, Felwine Sarr, Gerald Raunig, Geert Lovink, Mara Genschel, Danny Snelson, Sabine Scholl, Ingo Niermann & Mathias Gatza among others.

The Publishing Sphere is affiliated to the 9th Internationaler Literaturpre is awarded at Haus der Kulturen der Welt on July 6, 2017.

The Publishing Sphere9th Internationaler Literaturpre 


Haus der Kulturen der Welt is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as well as by the Federal Foreign Office.

Haus der Kulturen der Welt


The Publishing Sphere at Haus der Kulturen der Welt

The Publishing Sphere at Haus der Kulturen der WeltThe Publishing Sphere at Haus der Kulturen der Welt
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