Digital Self-Publishing: the Hidden Continent in Contemporary American Literature

Organizational unit: Department of Literature, Art and Media Studies
Course type: Online course

Self-publishing is widely associated with vain but untalented authors on the one hand, and predatory publishers on the other. With the rise of online platforms that connect millions of writers and readers online, however, self-publishing exposes grey zones of professional publishing that increasingly change the way literary writing at large is viewed. This seminar addresses how digital self-publishing is positioned in the transforming economy of professional publishing, and address changes to writing practices and reading practices. Writers who self-publish on digital platforms bypass the gatekeeping function of the literary agent in traditional publishing; add the creative product of “a book” to the fluid portfolio of influencers and public intellectuals; and create an “archive” of alternative perspectives (with a great range of what “alternative” is able to mean). Two practical sections assist the analysis of this complex and changeable situation for writers and creators. Students will create a “corporate persona” to help research and systematize different digital self-publishing venues, and create short video essays that position them as “content creators” and reflect their individual approaches and research interests on the seminar topic. But how can we think about digital self-publishing as the readers of literature? In the second half of the seminar, we will discuss a central example by which we examine changing reading practices and reading expectations. Using the example of E. L. James’s extraordinarily successful (originally self-published) novel Fifty Shades of Grey (2011), this seminar will trace emerging contexts of, and approaches to, reading literature by asking questions like: What traditions did the novel engage in, and what traditions did it reject? How does the novel engage the reader? And how does the outsized success of this novel relate to the general developments in digital self-publishing that we can observe?


– 11.04 – 18.07, Weekly, Mondays 10 :00 – 11 :30 

Format: Semester-based online seminar

Form of examination: Group project and video essay

Language: English

Course coordinators: Dr Sonja Schillings

Student Level: Advanced

Number of Places: 2

Number of ECTS: 36

Prerequisites and registration procedures (i.e. language, fee, registration dates)

– There are no prerequisites

Duration, Application Deadline and How to apply

Duration: 11.04 – 18.07 2022

Application Deadline: 11.04. 2022

If there are places still available, applications will be accepted up to 7 days before the start of the course (21.04)

Ready to Get Involved? Apply below.

You can apply by sending e-mail to:

Marcia Tiburi – TERRADORADA (paintings exhibition) – Auditorium MR002

Deavan Michelle La Tray – Chroma Depth (paintings exhibition) – Hall Auditorium MR002

Eva Dimitrova – Beauty without filters (photgraphy exhibition) – Hall Auditorium MR002

Michail Bakas – Equality in Life, Society and Education Human stories. Another road to the European Dream (photography exhibition) – University Entrance Hall

Indira Sofia Molina Caliz – Au sud du sud (dance performance) – Hall Auditorium MR002 – Closing session, cocktail time.

All performances will be available on November 8 except for the dance performance which will be held just before the cocktail.