The papers in this special issue of Poetics have a common origin. They were all prepared for the 6th Conference of the International Society for the Empirical Study of Literature (IGEL) held at Utrecht University (the Netherlands) in August of 1998. The Society's interdisciplinary character and its focus on the activities of producers, mediators, recipients, and post-processors of literary phenomena in their respective social context were reflected in the conference program and are also at the heart of this issue.