Are We Sitting Comfortably? A Review of Feminist Book Reviews

By on Jun 28, 2013 in Papers and Talks | 0 comments

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“Book reviews remain important to authors, publishers, booksellers, peers, academics and general readers. They may shape what gets published, what stays in print, and what or who does not. If reviews are important, then it is also important to consider the health of reviewing culture. Thus, this paper will consider the current feminist book reviewing culture by interrogating reviews found in journals such as Feminist Review and Contemporary Women’s Writing, and feminist blogs and websites such as The F Word and For Book’s Sake.Both outlets present opportunities for engagement with texts by women and about women’s issues. Yet, there are often quite different value judgments made about the usefulness and validity of their reviews. This paper will consider several important facets of journal and online reviewing culture, including the kind of texts under discussion (and available for discussion), the contributors submitting, frequency of publication, content, style and register of reviews, and potential audience. It is my contention that there are similarities, for example in the backgrounds of contributors and readers, and that there are differences, in immediacy, register, and critical rigour.It is important to reflect on these issues because these two mediums of circulation are central to the formation of critical hierarchies for texts in the 21st century. In forming these, they may further help to establish the importance of these texts in future years.  In addition, within the academy it is worth considering the future of our own reviewing culture in austere times. We might speculate on reductions to print journal circulation or changes to their online availability. There may be reduced opportunities for journal publication within a competitive job market or fewer texts published suitable for review. The existing online feminist reviewing culture presents a model of digital activism for the humanities to engage with and follow. ”

Delivered at  ‘Feminism in Academia: An Age of Austerity? Current Issues and Future Challenges’, FWSA/CWWA conference, University of Nottingham, September 2012

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