Make Contact: Contributive Bookselling and the Small Press in Canada Following the Second World War

Title: Make Contact: Contributive Bookselling and the Small Press in Canada Following the Second World War
Authors: Anstee, Cameron Alistair Owen
Date: 2017
Abstract: This dissertation examines booksellers in multiple roles as cultural agents in the small press field. It proposes various ways of understanding the work of booksellers as actively shaping the production, distribution, reception, and preservation of small press works, arguing that bookselling is a small press act unaccounted for in existing scholarship. It is structured around the idea of “contributive” bookselling from Nicky Drumbolis, wherein the bookseller “adds dimension to the cultural exchange […] participates as user, maker, transistor” (“this fiveyear list”). The questions at the heart of this dissertation are: How does the small press, in its material strategies of production and distribution, reshape the terms of reception for readers? How does the bookseller contribute to these processes? What does independent bookselling look like when it is committed to the cultural and aesthetic goals of the small press? And what is absent from literary and cultural records when the bookseller is not accounted for? This dissertation covers a period from 1952 to the present day. I begin by positing Raymond Souster’s “Contact” labour as an influential model for small press publishing in which the writer must adopt multiple roles in the communications circuit in order to construct and educate a community of readers. I then examine the bookseller catalogue as a bibliographic, critical, and pedagogical genre of publication that mediates productive encounters between readers and books. I next position the material, affective, and effective labour of the bookseller within the small press gift economy. Finally, I theorize the bookstore as a potential small press archive that functions as a viable counterweight to institutional collection and preservation. My reconsideration of the labour of the bookseller realigns relations between production, distribution, reception, documentation, and preservation of small press publications, making possible a more complete accounting of the histories of the book and of the small press in Canada.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -