Author:Ellen Wiles (University of Exeter)
Paper short abstract:
Live literature events have become central to the contemporary literary scene. Through an ethnographic glimpse of the Polari salon, this paper explores the merits of literary ethnography as a means to explore their role and value for participants and within literary culture.
Paper long abstract:
Live literature has become a core part of the contemporary literary scene, following the rapid growth of events from festivals to salons. These events transform writers into performers, and readers into audiences. They have multiple functions, including as a means to sell books. But how are they experienced and valued by participants? How do they affect the ways in which writers and readers relate to their texts and to each other, and negotiate social and cultural identities?
Through an ethnographic glimpse of Polari, an LGBT literary salon in the UK, this paper proposes that 'literary ethnography', in the sense of both style and subject matter, has a unique capacity to explore the phenomenology of live literature events, their aesthetic and socio-cultural value for participants, and their relationship to literary production and reception. It will also reflect more broadly on the relationship between creative and ethnographic writing, publication and performance.
Materialising the Imagination: How People Make Ideas Manifest