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October 2009 -- click to return to Contents
Beyond literature: culture and creative industries

Posted Oct. 5/09

by Laura Cummings

Sarah Brouillette
Sarah Brouillette arrives at Carleton’s Department of English Language and Literature with plans
to expand upon her research on the transformation of the publishing industry since the 1960s.

For Sarah Brouillette, the newest addition to Carleton University's Department of English Language and Literature, the return back to her childhood home of Canada came by a roundabout route.

After studying at the University of Toronto, the recently instated associate professor migrated down south, first for postdoctoral work at Syracuse University and then into a teaching position at MIT.

Now, Brouillette is returning to her Canadian roots with her move to join Carleton's faculty, as well as husband Travis DeCook, an assistant professor in the same department.

"I really liked MIT, but I always wanted to come back to the Canadian system," she explains. "(Carleton's graduate program, and its new program in the production of literature) were especially attractive to me."

In addition to heading a first-year seminar this semester, Brouillette will continue to focus on research in a number of different areas, including the transformation of the publishing industry since the 1960s, the subject of her first book.

"(Globalization and corporatization) have fundamentally changed the way literature is made and marketed and read," she says, with her own work examining that shift's impact on postcolonial authors in particular.

Brouillette will also centre her research efforts on the politics of culture in Northern Ireland, recounting that she "became interested in it while writing my first book."

With most Northern Irish literature devoted to stories of "The Troubles" — a period of ethno-political conflict between the 1960s and 1990s — Brouillette's work looks at how writers have understood their responsibility as interpreters of regional violence for far-flung audiences, and how they have distanced themselves from powerful heritage and tourism industries offering competing points of view.

That research, she continues, ties into a broader study of the idea of the "creative industries." Her next book, Brouillette explains, will examine how the language of "creativity" is being used by government and corporations across the United Kingdom, and how literature is shaped by new ways of framing and funding culture and the arts.

Digging deeper beyond literature itself to examine the industry "really helps you understand why the writing being done is being done," Brouillette says. "There are pretty intimate connections between those things. There's a direct connection between the material that gets published and the conditions we might think of as outside of literature."

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