Critical Inquiry Critical Inquiry

Books: Literature and Social Practice

Edited by Philippe Desan, Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, and Wendy Griswold

"The sociology of literature, in the first of many paradoxes, elicits negations before assertions," write the editors of this volume. "It is not an established field or academic discipline. . . . Yet none of these limitations affect the vitality and rigor of the larger enterprise."

Convinced that literature and society are essentially related to each other, the contributors to this collection attempt to define the various sociological practices of literature and to give expression to this enterprise and the commitments of its partisans. In various ways, the essays assembled here seek to integrate text, institution, and individual (both author and critic) as necessary parts of the analysis of literature. Diverse, sometimes contradictory approaches to literature (Marxism, publishing history, new historicism, and others) are utilized as the contributors explore such topics as text, author-function, and appropriation; the reality of representation; the sociology of exchange; the uses of "serious" fiction; poetry and politics; publishing history; and the literary field.