Recognising Literary Festivals

  • Millicent Weber
Part of the New Directions in Book History book series (NDBH)


This chapter identifies the limitations of existing studies of literary festival audiences, and compares theoretical understandings of audience, readership, reader, and consumer, drawn from across literary studies and book history, media and communications studies, and theatre and performance studies, to develop a new conceptual framework for literary festival audience experience. These understandings are used to supplement and develop theorisations of the literary field, derived from the work of Pierre Bourdieu (The forms of capital. In: Richardson J (ed) Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education. Greenwood, New York, pp 241–258, 1986; The rules of art (trans: Emanuel S). Polity Press, Cambridge, 1996; The field of cultural production. In: Finkelstein D, McCleery A (eds) The book history reader. Routledge, London/New York, pp 99–120, 2006), in order to account for the complex interplay between both interested and disinterested personal and political motivations for audience members’ attendance at literary festivals. Demonstrating that engagement with literary festivals can be productively modelled as social, cultural, communicative, and affective, this chapter expands on earlier understandings of literary festival audiences, and asserts the importance of understanding these audiences’ experiences as in many ways cognate with those of other live cultural events. In pulling together an interdisciplinary model for experience, this also paves the way for further studies of cross-media cultural engagement in subsequent chapters.


Literary Festivals Festival Audience Literary Field Audience Members Audience Experience 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Millicent Weber
    • 1
  1. 1.Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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