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Heinemann African Writers Series

History, editorship, and markets

Nourdin Bejjit

From its launch in 1962, the African Writers Series (AWS) enabled the dissemination of African literature worldwide and contributed to the creation of a critical sensitivity among readers and critics alike to its distinct qualities and values. It is difficult to imagine the existence of a solid ‘tradition’ of African literature in English without the African Writers Series. What is more, Heinemann Educational Books (HEB) made it possible for African authors writing in Arabic or French to be part of a larger literary phenomenon. The works varied from creative to biographical writings and echoed the rich multilingual and multicultural African voices then in the making. This article seeks to shed light on various aspects of publishing the AWS. It offers a survey of the rise and development of the series and the crisis that eventually befell it.

Luisanna Sardu


The collection of Rime by the Italian sonneteer Gaspara Stampa (1523–1554) has often been compared in style and format to the Canzoniere of Petrarch. Such analysis places emphasis on Petrarch instead of Stampa, and limits discussion of her work to its relation with the literary tradition he established. Interpretation of the work of Stampa and other female authors requires a new perspective, recognising that they sought to create for themselves a literary safe space in which to convey deeply held emotional states – especially anger – and in the process to reclaim the voices and emotions of women from the male literary traditions in which they had been ensnared.

Philippa Byrne


The episcopacy in the High Middle Ages (c.1100–1300) can be understood through the idea of a shared emotional language, as seen in two treatises written to advise new bishops. In them, episcopal office was largely defined by the emotions it provoked: it was a cause for sorrow, a burden akin to back-breaking agricultural service. The ideas most associated with episcopal office were anxiety, labour and endurance. Ideas about Christian service as painful labour became particularly important in the twelfth century, alongside the development of the institutional authority of the Church. As episcopal power began to look more threatening and less humble, this emotional register provided one means of distinguishing episcopal power from secular lordly power: both were authorities, but bishops were distinguished by sorrowing over office and ‘enduring’, not enjoying it.

Nitasha Devasar

The demand for online content in Indian languages (IL) is growing faster than for that in English. The proliferation of cheap smartphones with Indic keyboards and high-speed connectivity is feeding this trend. Moreover, there is increasing formal and informal collaboration between English and IL publishers to make educational and literary content available in regional languages. This currently is not financially viable or scalable and follows the logic of the print (rather than digital) economy. The government is focused on online content delivery as part of a larger Digital India programme. In the absence of IL content in the higher education arena, it must work with private players to develop quality technical and scientific content. Indian-language publishers need to be included in this process via training and incentives, since they have regional networks for effective outreach with this content. The biggest role of the government, however, is in the arena of regulation with the updating and implementation of intellectual property (IP) and copyright laws that need to extend to digital content; as well as in creating an environment where quality educational content is incentivized.

Peter N. Stearns


An intriguing and pervasive development in the history of the past century – in the United States and at least some other societies – has been the rise of greater informality in interpersonal relations. Almost everyone knows this has been happening – a class of college students can offer a number of valid illustrations (with a heavy dose of habits on social media), and some have lived through even more extensive changes in, for example, the way people dress. But the phenomenon is dramatically understudied, taken for granted rather than assessed or analysed. There is a serious historical topic here that should be addressed by a wider audience, with several dimensions for further evaluation.

Micheline Louis-Courvoisier


From the eighteenth century patients might use ‘uneasiness’ / inquiétude to describe both a physical sensation and a personal anxiety. This double definition reflects the deep interrelation between emotion and sensation in the period. Inquiétude was embedded in a specific historical context, defined by humoral medical discourse, by the practice of self-writing, by the doctor-patient relationship, and by a semantic confusion in the use of certain words. Analysis of the different uses of inquiétude in nineteenth- and twentieth-century French novels shows that it increasingly described a mental state, such as an anxiety, but that the sensorial meaning persisted discreetly in different ways. Elements of neurophysiological theories and relevance theory offer some tools to bridge the gap between the two narrative genres and historical contexts.

Mark Camilleri

In 2016, the National Book Council, the ISBN agency for Malta, released its ISBN database online. A few months later, the ISBN database was enhanced with an open-data feature that enables users to download the search results in a single file with read and write access. The database includes all the ISBN data of Malta except for some records and data that were lost during the period before 2013 when paper data storage of ISBN records was the common practice. The implementation of an ISBN electronic database now ensures that no data go missing and facilitates the preservation of metadata. As added value, the open-data system provides access to all of the ISBN records as listed in the database, which means that virtually all of the ISBN data elements can be downloaded from the database. Researchers, publishers, authors, and booksellers all stand to benefit from this open ISBN data system.