Tastemaking in Post-digital Literary Culture: The Role of Book Blogs

Presented by Dr Beth Driscoll (University of Melbourne)

Date: Friday 31 August, 2018
Time: 3:00pm-4:00pm
Location: Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2), Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37) 


Amidst the plethora of opportunities for book chat provided by digital media platforms, the book blog is distinctive: less obviously corporatised than Amazon, Facebook or Twitter, longer in format, and focused around the tastes of an individual and the community of like-minded readers they might attract. This presentation considers book blogs as shared expressions of readers' aesthetic conduct across print and digital formats, connected to the publishing industry (including through self-publishing) while also aligned with recreation and pleasure. To tease out some of the distinctions within book blogging, I describe two contrasting networks: highbrow literary blogs, and romance fiction blogs. While new media enables increased participation of readers in book culture, this participation is stratified into taste-based groups, which are themselves further stratified by hierarchy as bloggers accumulate a specific kind of ‘readerly capital’.



Beth Driscoll is Senior Lecturer in Publishing and Communications and Program Coordinator for the Master of Arts and Cultural Management at the University of Melbourne. Her research investigates contemporary cultures of reading, publishing and writing. Her monograph, "The New Literary Middlebrow: Tastemakers and Reading in the Twenty-First Century" (Palgrave Macmillan), was published in 2014 and is based on her doctoral research into contemporary forms of middlebrow literary culture including Oprah's Book Club, the Man Booker Prize and literary festivals. 

Beth is a Chief Investigator on two ARC Discovery Projects. "Genre Worlds: Australian Popular Fiction in the Twenty-First Century" (with Dr Kim Wilkins and Prof David Carter, UQ, and Dr Lisa Fletcher, UTas) runs from 2016 to 2018 and will offer the first systematic examination of 21st-century Australian popular fiction, the most significant growth area in Australian trade publishing since the turn of the century. Its three areas of investigation are: the publishing of Australian popular fiction; the interrelationships between Australian popular fiction and Australian genre communities; and the textual distinctiveness of Australian popular novels in relation to genre. Research will centre on thirty novels across three genres, building a comprehensive picture of the practices and processes of Australian popular fiction through detailed examination of trade data, close reading of texts, and interviews with industry figures.

"New Tastemakers and Australia's Post-Digital Literary Culture" (with A/Prof Mark Davis and Dr Sybil Nolan, University of Melbourne, and Dr Emmett Stinson, Deakin University) runs from 2017-2019. It investigates the effect of digital technologies on taste-making in Australian literary culture. The project will examine how digital media and platforms such as eBooks, Twitter, Goodreads and Amazon reviews have changed how Australian literature is produced, distributed and consumed, and what this means for the future of Australian literature.  

Dr Beth Driscoll


About Research Seminar and Workshop Series


School of Communication and Arts Research Seminar Series

The research seminar and workshop series occur each semester, each with a different topic and guest speaker from UQ or otherwise.

Friday, 24 March

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

Fire Futures: codesigning for resilience

Dr Skye Doherty

Friday, 31 March

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

From Fatigue Studies to Burnout: A Brief History of Work Exhaustion

A/Prof Elizabeth Stephens



Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2), Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)