The Social Lives of Books

The Social Lives of Books

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This project explores how changing models of literary production are blurring or erasing the divisions between authors, critics and readers. Millions of cultural consumers are participating in previously closed literary conversations and expressing forms of mass distinction through their purchases and reviews of books. These traces of popular reading choices constitute a fresh perspective on elusive audience reactions to literature and reveal evolving networks of conversation. Employing network analysis methodologies and 'distant reading' of book reviews, recommendations and other digital traces of cultural distinction, I develop a new model for literary culture in America today. Through readings of the fiction and reception of Thomas Pynchon, Toni Morrison, David Foster Wallace and Junot DAsaz, this model outlines the fundamental requirements for contemporary literary fame. My introduction outlines methodological tools I developed and situates them in the critical traditions of literary reception, cultural sociology and media theory before describing the digital ecologies that have emerged around literature online and their value. Chapter 1 explores the nature of literary fame through a case study of Thomas Pynchon, whose carefully guarded anonymity and ironic distance from capitalism are reflected in the networks his readers construct around his long, challenging books. In stark contrast, Toni Morrison, the subject of Chapter 2, has succeeded critically and commercially, tirelessly seeking out readers to form literary communities around her writing, most prominently through her collaboration with Oprah's Book Club. Chapter 3 considers David Foster Wallace and Junot DAsaz and sets out a model for contemporary literary culture: a reading society that demands new forms of authorial reflexivity to mirror the collaborative, iterative nature of digital literary conversations. I conclude with a brief consideration of the exciting prospects and challenges for fiction in a world that reads more than ever but is growing disaffected with the material realities of literary production.also on display here: about a third of all the authors present in this diagram are titans like Faulkner, Whitman and Twain. ... In this sense, the network reflects Morrisona#39;s position as a particularly polyvalent figure in American letters as an editor, ... A stylistic and thematic web of comparisons links Morrison, Wright, Ellison and Faulkner with the younger generation of Gayl Jones and Toni Cade Bambara.


Title:The Social Lives of Books
Author:
Publisher:Stanford University - 2011
ISBN-13:

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