Literary Archives in China

In the present difficult and challenging times, this is a “solidarity post”, with best wishes to all our friends and archival colleagues in China.

China is a country rich in literary archives, in a variety of locations. For non-Chinese researchers and interested literary archivists, one of the best ways to gain insights and access to these collections is to proceed author by author.

Lu Xun
An excellent example is the author Lu Xun (real name: Zhou Shuren, 1881-1936). Essayist, polemicist, poet and author of stories such as Diary of a madman and True story of Ah Q, Lu Xun lived at different times in his life in both Beijing and Shanghai. It is appropriate therefore that his personal effects, including literary manuscripts and correspondence, are divided between two principal institutions (two fascinating visits).

Beijing Lu Xun Museum is a writer’s house museum in Fucheng Gate Avenue, founded in 1956. In addition to books, manuscripts and personal papers, it holds an extensive collection of artworks and photographs.

Shanghai Lu Xun Memorial Museum (also known as Former Residence of Lu Xun) is situated an easy walk from centre of Shanghai into the more peaceful suburbs, near the park also named after Lu Xun. The house is preserved very much as it was at the time of the writer’s death, and includes displays (as well as archival stores) of his literary manuscripts.

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ICA supports Blue Shield statement on cultural sites in Iran

ICA supports the Blue Shield International statement on potential specific targeting of cultural sites in Iran

Blue Shield International notes with grave concern the recent statements by the President of the United States of America that he is seriously contemplating targeting cultural sites in Iran if Iran reacts to the killing of General Qasem Soleimani.

The intentional targeting of cultural and religious sites (that are not legitimate military objectives and have no imperative military necessity), is prohibited specifically, under any circumstances, in international humanitarian law, most notably in the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its Second, 1999, Protocol. The USA ratified this Convention in 2009. Cultural property protection is also an integral part of the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Conventions (arts 53 and 85(4)(d)); the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (arts 8(2)(b)(ix) and 8(2)(e)(iv)); and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2347. The protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict is regarded as Customary International Law.

The current situation is additionally problematic and unfortunate as the USA was the first country to enshrine the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict in the 1863 Lieber Code2 during the American Civil War. More recently, individuals were found guilty and imprisoned for deliberate crimes against cultural property under the remit of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; and, in 2016, Mr Al Mahdi, a member of the extremist group Ansar Dine, was sentenced to nine years imprisonment and given a €2.7 million fine by the International Criminal Court under the Rome Statute, for the destruction of nine mausolea and a mosque in Timbuktu, Mali.

It would be a major undermining of international humanitarian law, and a significant set-back for the international community, if the USA, especially given its historic leadership, had to be added to those responsible for the deliberate, calculated, illegal destruction of cultural heritage.

We ask the President to remove any cultural sites from his target list so as to avoid the USA committing war crimes and to stop threatening cultural sites in Iran in any way. For further information please contact:

Professor Peter G Stone, Vice President, Blue Shield International
8 January 2020

Supported by the International Council on Archives. See:

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T. S. Eliot letters opened after 60-year closure

Princeton University has announced that the letters from the Anglo-American poet T. S. Eliot to his friend and “muse” Emily Hale have finally been opened for research, as from 2 January 2020. This follows one of the longest and most famous closures to the public of a literary archive. Emily Hale gave the letters to Princeton, over 60 years ago, on condition that they should be closed to the public for 50 years after her death or Eliot’s, whichever was the later. Eliot died in 1965 and Hale in 1969.

The letters are now fully open for study. “Researchers can access the collection on a first-come, first-served basis in Firestone Library’s Special Collections, located on C floor.”

Read the full story on the Princeton University website, here.

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SLA Committee / Bureau / Comité Directeur, 2020-2024: decision / décision

Dear SLA Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce, after the closure of nominations, that the following Committee has been elected for the period 2020-2024:

Leonor Calvão Borges
Fatoumata Cissé Diara
Heather Dean
André Derval
Sebastian Gurciullo
Veno Kauaria
Annantonia Martorano
David Sutton

As the SLA constitution allows for a maximum steering committee membership of eleven, we have three vacancies at the moment, which we can fill at any time during the next four years.

Best wishes to all SLA members,

David Sutton

Dr David Sutton
Director of Research Projects
University of Reading Library
(Outgoing President, SLA)
Cher collègue, chère collègue,

J’ai le plaisir de confirmer, suite à la fermeture des nominations, que le Comité Directeur suivant a été élu avec un mandat de quatre ans – de 2020 jusqu’à 2024:

Leonor Calvão Borges
Fatoumata Cissé Diara
Heather Dean
André Derval
Sebastian Gurciullo
Veno Kauaria
Annantonia Martorano
David Sutton

La constitution de la SLA prévoie un maximum d’onze membres du Comité directeur; il y a donc trois postes vacants à présent.


David Sutton

Dr David Sutton
Director of Research Projects
University of Reading Library
(Président sortant, SLA)

Posted in Messages from SLA's Chair, News and events | 1 Comment

Asian Diasporic Literature: Past, Present and Future

Details have been announced of an international conference entitled Asian Diasporic Literature: Past, Present and Future to be held on 29-30 July 2020 at the School of Humanities, Universiti Sains Malaysia.

In this 2020 conference special attention will be paid to emerging directions and practices on/in Asian diasporic literature and theory. Since the beginning of the new millennium, the world has witnessed important changes in social, political, cultural and economic landscapes. The shifts have in turn pushed diaspora studies to expand beyond their origins in literary studies and their primary focus on ‘representation’ to an engagement with epistemological, ethical and political questions. Through ICL, we want to respond and contribute to current critical and theoretical debates by moving toward the study of world literatures and global theoretical, aesthetic and cultural practices. The conference also aims to trigger a debate about the future of the discipline, and thus reinvigorate and pioneer certain dimensions of the areas. Proposals are encouraged in, but not limited to, the following topics:

The Legacy of the Asian Diaspora
Contexts, Forms, and Perspectives
Shifting Perspectives on Race and Gender
New Perspectives on Identity, Space, and Mobility

Region, Religion, Politics, and Culture
Migration, Diaspora, Hybridity, and Borders
Rethinking the Family, Class, and Ethnicity
Bioethics, Ecology, Ecocriticism, Health, and Wellness
War, Violence and Terror

Or any other aspect of diasporic literary studies.

More information about the conference theme and sub-themes can be obtained at

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SLA Committee, 2020-2024

From Heather Dean, SLA Secretary

Dear Colleagues / Cher(e)s collègues:

The ICA Section for Archives of Literature and Art (SLA) needs to elect a new Committee for the period 2020-2024 and nominations are invited. The Committee may have a membership of between five and eleven. Members of SLA may nominate either themselves or a fellow SLA member. Please send your nomination to David Sutton, the outgoing Chair of the Section at by Monday 2 December 2019. If elections are required they will be held in January or February 2020.

La Section sur les Archives Littéraires et Artistiques (SLA) doit élire un nouveau comité pour la période 2020-2024, et les candidatures sont maintenant invitées. Le comité compte un minimum de cinq et un maximum d’onze membres. Les membres de la SLA peuvent ou se présenter ou proposer un autre membre de la Section. Veuillez envoyer votre candidature ou proposition à David Sutton, président sortant de la section, à l’adresse, à partir d’aujourd’hui jusqu’au lundi 2 décembre 2019. Si des élections sont nécessaires, elles auront lieu en janvier ou février 2020.

Sincerely / Cordialement,


Heather Dean
Secretary / Secrétaire
Section for Archives of Literature and Art / Section sur les Archives Littéraires et Artistiques

Associate Director, Special Collections
Special Collections & University Archives
University of Victoria
On the traditional territory of the WS’ANEC’ (Saanich), Lkwungen (Songhees), Wyomilth (Esquimalt) peoples of the Coast Salish Nation
PO Box 1800 STN CSC |Victoria BC V8W 3H5

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Grants to digitise archival collections at risk

From our friends at the Endangered Archives Programme


The Endangered Archives Programme seeks to preserve cultural heritage and make it available to as wide an audience as possible. We fund digitisation projects to record the content of archives, which can include rare printed sources, manuscripts, visual materials, or audio recordings. We aim to enhance local capabilities to manage and preserve archival collections into the future, and therefore all applications must involve at least one archival partner in the country where the material is based. We welcome applications for funding on an annual basis. The current deadline for preliminary applications is 11 November 2019. Application forms and guidelines can be found at The Endangered Archives Programme is supported by the Arcadia Fund and administered by the British Library. For enquiries contact

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Born-digital literary archives in ‘Archives & Manuscripts’

The latest issue of Archives & Manuscripts (vol. 47, no. 3, November 2019) is dedicated to born-digital literary archives under the special theme of After the Digital Revolution guest edited by Lise Jaillant.

The contents of the issue are as follows:


‘After the digital revolution: working with emails and born-digital records in literary and publisher’s archives’
by Lise Jaillant.


‘Appraising, processing, and providing access to email in contemporary literary archives’
by J Schneider, C Adams, S DeBauche, R Echols, C McKean, J Moran and D Waugh.

‘Literary archives in the digital age: issues and encounters with Australian writers’
by Kevin Molloy.

‘”Missing Presumed”: computer games and digital adventures in the Colin Smythe/Terry Pratchett Collection’
by Maria Castrillo.

‘Observing the author-editor relationship: recordkeeping and literary scholarship in dialogue’
by Jenny Bunn and Samantha J Rayner.

‘The forensic imagination: interdisciplinary approaches to tracing creativity in writers’ born-digital archives’
by Paul Gooding, Jos Smith and Justine Mann.

‘Negotiating the born-digital: a problem of search’
by Jane Winters and Andrew Prescott.

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Caribbean Literary Heritage

The Caribbean Literary Heritage project, based primarily at the University of East Anglia, is developing a number of important new initiatives.

The project has the following aims, in respect of literary materials from the Caribbean region:

* to create a fuller literary history of the period 1940-1980
* to recover stories of forgotten writers and writings
* to help writers to become more aware of what to save of today’s manuscripts and papers for tomorrow’s researchers
* to develop case studies of writers, especially those writing from the region, that seek to understand the opportunities and challenges for their creative and collecting practices
* to bring together academics, archivists and writers from the UK, Caribbean and beyond to discuss the changing nature of Caribbean literary archives across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries
* to create an open-access resource that maps where Caribbean writers’ papers can be found
* to enrich open access knowledge sources, such a Wikipedia, with entries on Caribbean writers, their papers, and literary archives in the region
* to work with and take guidance from senior figures in the region including the project’s official advisors

For more information, visit the Caribbean Literary Heritage website.

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SLA projects, 2010-2020

The ICA 2020 four-yearly Congress will be held in Abu Dhabi (mid-November 2020). It usually happens in ICA bodies that there are changes of personnel and priorities following the Congress, so this may be an opportune time to begin to think about reviewing the Section’s projects. There follows a list of the principal projects in which the Section has been involved since 2010:

* World-wide directory of institutions holding literary and artistic archives
* Directory of literary archives outside the home country (diasporic literary archives)
* Directory of resources for literary copyright
* Protecting the archives of dissident authors
* Collecting personal papers : principles and best practice
* Literary and artistic papers : guidance for authors and artists
* “How to use” guidance for researchers using literary archives
* Caribbean literary archives
* Collecting literary archives in African countries
* Documentary heritage at risk
* Safe havens for archives at risk
* A study of all the issues around correspondence within literary collections
* Collecting policies : principles and best practice
* Electronic media : the collection of literary and artistic material in the form of emails, electronic files, social media platforms, disks and diskettes, etc.
* Producing a special “literary and artistic” edition of Comma

Some of these projects have been completed; some are ongoing; and some need more work. But the Section’s officers would welcome suggestions for future activities by the Section after 2020.

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