Literature and the rise of the interview

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This book examines the way in which authors have engaged with the interview form, and interviewing as a literary practice, over the last 150 years. Shaped by a longer tradition around the art of dialogue, interviews themselves are a latecomer, only emerging as a form alongside new technologies of mass and mediated communication in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. However, they have been an enormously successful innovation: interviews proliferate across contemporary culture and have become a dominant means by which authors publicise their works today. Drawing on archival materials, printed illustrations and audiovisual media, the book tells the story of how writers and critics have engaged (or refused to engage) with this innovation. Attending to interviews and interviewing in English allows us to examine familiar topics such as modernist autonomy, and authors including Henry James, Djuna Barnes and J. M. Coetzee, from new perspectives. Exposing the interview’s curiously liminal position in the literary imagination, the book goes behind the proverbial scenes to analyse what this might tell us about conceptions of literature, authorship, celebrity, criticism, and reading communities across the twentieth century. The book also engages with wider uses of the interview in sociology, law, medicine, market research, and broadcasting, to argue that the interview has played a key role in recording and shaping our understanding of subjectivity and publics in modernity.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages304
ISBN (Print)9780198825418
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2018


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