Transcultural Writing and the Publishing Industry

Module code: EN3192

Module co-ordinator: Dr Lucy Evans

Are you interested in working in publishing or another area of the creative industries after graduation? If so, this module will enable you to gain valuable experience while learning more about these industries. It combines the study of literary texts and the circumstances of their production with hands-on involvement in the work of independent publishers and literary organisations. You will have an opportunity to glimpse the book trade from the inside by means of an e-placement. In the past, students have worked with the following publishers:

  • Peepal Tree Press
  • Commonword
  • Flipped Eye Publishing
  • Ayebia
  • Hansib Publications
  • Sable Litmag
  • Renaissance One
  • Dahlia Publishing
  • Halban Publishers
  • Kube Publishing


Seminars and Workshops

Both the number of set texts and the number of timetabled sessions are lower than for other special subjects in order to make time for the e-placement. The five seminars will cover a total of four literary texts. After an introductory seminar, you will analyse two internationally bestselling novels published by mainstream presses. Which elements of Zadie Smith's White Teeth (Hamish Hamilton, Random House, Penguin) and Monica Ali's Brick Lane (Doubleday, Black Swan), subsequently adapted into a TV series and a film, have made them so appealing to a worldwide audience? How has the publicity surrounding these books had an impact on how they have been read? Looking beyond the texts themselves to their cover images, book jacket blurbs, and reviews, we will identify which readerships have been targeted by the publishers and what kinds of marketing strategies have been used to attract those audiences. The third and fourth seminars will focus on a poetry anthology and an anthology of short stories produced by independent publishers: Jackie Kay, James Procter, and Gemma Robinson (eds), Out of Bounds: British Black and Asian Poets (Bloodaxe) and Ama Ata Aidoo (ed.), African Love Stories: An Anthology (Ayebia). We will compare these texts to White Teeth and Brick Lane, examining similarities and differences in their style, form, setting, subject matter, and how they have been promoted to readers.

The five seminars will be complemented by two workshops that will introduce students to some of the practical skills involved in the publishing process. The first workshop will focus on copywriting (producing book blurbs appropriate to different audiences), and the second workshop, run by a publishing professional, will focus on developing a publicity campaign for a book or a series of books.


Each student on the module will work with an independent publisher on a project set by that publisher. No previous work experience in publishing is required. Prior to the module, descriptions of all the e-placements will be circulated, and you will submit a form placing them in order of preference along with a statement about your own expectations. We will then attempt to match you to the e-placement that best suits your interests. The nature of the projects will depend on the needs of each publisher, but are likely to focus on editorial work, publicity, and online marketing. The e-placement will take place over the course of the semester and you will spend a set number of hours on it each week. You will agree on specific goals for your placement with the publisher. 

The e-placement will begin with a face-to-face meeting with the publisher either on campus or at their office (travel expenses will be provided). For the remainder of the placement, you will remain in Leicester but work closely with the publisher as you complete the project. During the course of the e-placement, your progress will be monitored by the publisher and you will also keep an unassessed activity log of the time spent and work done on the e-placement project. This will be submitted at intervals to the module tutor, who will be available throughout the semester to answer any questions you may have about the e-placement. The e-placement will offer you a chance to learn more about the mission and activities of a particular publisher as you develop skills relevant to the workplace. You will gain an insight into some of the challenges faced by independent presses in the twenty-first century as they compete with the expanding commercial sector and respond to new technologies.

By the end of the module, you'll be able to:

  • Extend your analysis of literary texts to the circumstances of their production, marketing, and reception
  • Identify different kinds of readerships and evaluate how marketing strategies have been used to target particular audiences
  • Show knowledge of the publishing industry, both theoretical and practical
  • Understand the importance of multimedia capabilities to twenty-first-century publishing
  • Apply the specialised professional skills gained on this module within the workplace
  • Demonstrate effective verbal and written communication skills
  • Work effectively on your own and as part of a team


  • An essay of 2,000 words analysing a literary text and the contexts of its production and reception

  • A reflective commentary of 2,000 words relating to the e-placement. This will consist of two parts: the first part will be written at the beginning of the placement and will comment on the vision and agenda of the publisher you are working for. The second part will be written at the end of the placement and will reflect on the work you have done for the publisher. This reflective piece will be submitted along with a reference provided by the employer and will draw on the unassessed activity log.

Assessment for the module will be either 70% for the essay and 30% for the reflective commentary OR 30% for the essay and 70% for the reflective commentary, whichever gains the higher mark.