BC Editions is the upcoming reincarnation of the Beyond Criticism book series, originally published by Bloomsbury and now being taken over by Boiler House Press. The series explores the radical new forms that literary criticism might take in the 21st century. You can read more about our mission by reading our manifesto.
The series will launch in Spring 2020 with a set of five books, ‘The Type Set’, including new works by Steve Hanson, Robert Crawford, Tara Blake and Ansgar Allen, as well as a new edition of the brilliant and now out-of-print Macbeth, Macbeth by Ewan Fernie and Simon Palfrey. See below for more details.
The Type Set
The Type Set is the upcoming set of five new titles, which will launch the BC Editions series next spring. The name has multiple connotations, some tongue-in-cheek and some more serious. The creative-critical is a new ‘type’ of writing, one which expands and explodes the notion of what a ‘type’ (a ‘kind’, a ‘genre’) is. Each of the five books in the set does this in a different way, negotiating with different ‘types’ of writing (essays, criticism, sacred religious texts, archival material, pedagogical writing, drama, fiction) and ‘setting’ them against each other in new combinations, or else revealing those types of writing to be less ‘set’, less stable and fixed, than they first appear.
Furthermore, the name is a pun on ‘typeset’, the typesetting of a book forming a key part of the established publishing process; it thus alludes to the wider process of publishing as a means of bestowing authority on certain ideas and certain texts, of ‘setting’ them in place. The Type Set is both a part of this process and – through the variety of genre-resistant work displayed across the five titles, as well as through the online expansions of each book on the Beyond Criticism website – a resistance to it. The irony is that the BC Editions series, which seeks neither to impose strict limits on the type of work it publishes, nor to set the always unsettled idea of what ‘creative-criticism’ is, begins with a name which suggests both activities. From its inception, the series is aware of the risks inherent in its own nature.
While these are not the final designs for the book jackets, we thought we'd make available the design concept brief for the upcoming titles as a way of whetting your appetite for what's to come...
A Shaken Bible
The cover for A Shaken Bible utilises imagery the original frontispiece from the King James Bible of 1611, as well as an image of the final full stop from the King James Bible, blown up and magnified (in the centre of the image). In the words of author Steve Hanson: ‘The full stop is a metaphor for the whole work; when you blow it up, it becomes neither final nor full and it is not neatly round. The King James appears full, finished and neatly final. It, too, needed blowing up.’
Ewan Fernie and Simon Palfrey
The cover for Macbeth, Macbeth takes the comma from the book’s title and multiplies it, reproducing it in different fonts and sizes, suggestive of how the four sons of Karamazov repeat the tragedy of Macbeth in Fernie and Palfrey’s novel. It also plays on the famous line ‘out, damned spot!’ from the original play, with the distortion on the various commas suggesting someone has tried to rub them away, only to have them proliferate.
The Sick List
The cover for The Sick List utilises two symbols, a tick box and a tick, arranged into a list which becomes gradually ‘sick’ as it descends. The imagery thus plays on the title, but also on the book’s disillusionment with contemporary education, playing with imagery of marking, of metaphorically ‘ticking’ things off from a syllabus, and of putting subjects and students into ‘boxes’. It ties into the book’s themes, which Ansgar Allen describes as ‘the end of education, the conceit of educated people, and the violence of educational relationships.’
Calls from the Archive
The cover for Tara Blake’s Calls from the Archive utilises a single guillemet, commonly used as the ‘less than’ sign. The play here is mostly visual: the symbol appears as a ‘call’ from within the circle, suggestive of a megaphone or a mouth. The circle, which is made up of tiny dots, is suggestive of archival material itself, its volume and variety. (Note that Blake’s title is a working title and may change!)
Textual Non Sense
The cover for Textual Non Sense utilises the question mark, a symbol which is used not only to indicate a question but also to indicate confusion, misunderstanding, or lack of sense. Playing again on educational imagery, we note that while a tick indicates ‘correct’ meaning – that is, conventional meaning – a question mark in the margin of work indicates that a student or thinker has strayed from convention, from common sense, from clarity of meaning. Textual Non Sense is a book which investigates this straying, full as it is of deliberate errors and mistakes.
The spines, in addition to featuring the titles, authors, and Boiler House logo, feature the name of the set, 'THE TYPE SET', spelt out across the top of all five spines, with assorted typographical symbols underneath. This encourages people to collect the whole set, to spell out the full name. It also ties the books together as a set when displayed on a shelf.
Each book will be accompanied by its own new section of the Beyond Criticism website, featuring an online ‘expansion’ or ‘explosion’ of the book. The exact form this will take will differ from book to book, but may include interviews, reflections, responses, rewritings, additional materials cut from earlier drafts, photographs and music – in each case a unique concoction of materials, mixing both inspirations for the book and responses to it.
Get in touch
If you have something you feel might be a fit for BC Editions, please get in contact with Boiler House Press here to discuss your ideas. If you'd like to learn more about our mission first, have a read of our manifesto.
If you’d like to contribute materials to this section of the website – perhaps by writing, painting, recording or otherwise creating responses to one of the upcoming BC Editions books – please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.