June 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

At the London Book Fair, April 2013, I was struck by the notice in the Authorlounge: ‘The Authorlounge curated by Authoright’.

Curated? Could a day’s seminars be curated?

An extract from the Oxford Dictionary online dictionary says:

Curate verb

[with object]

The selection of acts for a music festival would appear to be the closest. Writers do seem to be adopting the vocabulary of the music industry. Some writers don’t just ‘give talks’ but ‘do gigs’.

When Sam Husain of Foyles talked about the future of bookshops (London Book Fair, April 2013), he talked too of the need to ‘curate’ a bookshop. Had he been inspired by Authoright’s sign?

During a two-day conference on daylight in Copenhagen last month, May 2013, an engineer informed architects that they should ‘curate’ projects.

See the excerpts from three consecutive issues of Mslexia:

SEP/OCT/NOV: DANUTA KEAN is Books Editor of Mslexia, as well as a publishing commentator and journalist whose work appears in national newspapers and specialist journals. Until this year she taught on the Creative Writing MA at Brunel University and she still runs one-off workshops for writers, including how to get an agent.

DEC/JAN/FEB: DANUTA KEAN is books editor of Mslexia and a freelance writer and publishing expert. As well as writing, she teaches on creative writing courses.

MAR/APR/MAY: DANUTA KEAN is Books Editor of Mslexia and an expert on the publishing industry. She is also curator of the Guardian Masterclass Creative Writing programme, for which she runs a popular ‘Pitching to Agents’ course.

Not only does the thing being organised have to have several distinct parts, there must also be an element of selection and exclusion. At the moment, you could curate a Creative Writing programme (several courses to be organised) but not a single course: you will probably only be ‘running’ the course.

One could curate a bookshop if there were more to it than the business of buying and selling books. You would have to organise, I imagine, at least two kinds of cultural events. Book signings with author talks and other author ‘gigs’.

Is ‘curate’ the new ‘organise’, ‘manage’, ‘direct’, and possibly even ‘choose’ ?


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