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Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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I am extremely pleased to say that my latest peer-reviewed book, Literature Against Criticism: University English and Contemporary Fiction in Conflict has today been published by Open Book Publishers!

Literature Against Criticism

The book itself is open access and available to download, read and re-use for free [PDF, CC BY 4.0]. It is also available in hardback and paperback (and Kindle) at a very reasonable price, either directly from the publisher or via Amazon.

The book is essentially about a set of literary practices that have emerged in recent contemporary fiction that are immersed in the legitimation struggle of university English. In the work, I examine the ways in which various novels fight for the right to critical speech, over and above the practices of the university. It’s a bit polemical and I’m sure that not everyone will accept my contention that there is a “conflict” here. Nonetheless, I am swimming in a stream of recent criticism on this practice, from Judith Ryan through to Mark McGurl. From the book’s official blurb:

This is a book about the power game currently being played out between two symbiotic cultural institutions: the university and the novel. As the number of hyper-knowledgeable literary fans grows, students and researchers in English departments waver between dismissing and harnessing voices outside the academy. Meanwhile, the role that the university plays in contemporary literary fiction is becoming increasingly complex and metafictional, moving far beyond the ‘campus novel’ of the mid-twentieth century.

Martin Paul Eve’s engaging and far-reaching study explores the novel’s contribution to the ongoing displacement of cultural authority away from university English. Spanning the works of Jennifer Egan, Ishmael Reed, Tom McCarthy, Sarah Waters, Percival Everett, Roberto Bolaño and many others, Literature Against Criticism forces us to re-think our previous notions about the relationship between those who write literary fiction and those who critique it.

I’ve also written a blog post for Open Book Publishers, exploring the subject matter a little further.

Overall, I found this quite a challenging book to write. The first words were put to paper (or, I suppose, screen) in 2012 and the last modifications were in early September this year. I had meant this to be my second book but I ended up writing two others in between while I worked out precisely what was going on. That said, as I wrote yesterday, the experience that I had with Open Book Publishers was exceptional, on both the peer-review and the production fronts, and wholly professional. I would recommend them to anyone. It is also such a great feeling to know that, if someone wants to read my book and really can’t afford the £16 paperback, the open-access version will be freely accessible. Research/education available to anyone who wants to read it, not only to those who can afford to buy it.