The Sociology of Literature is a pithy primer on the history, affordances, and potential futures of this growing field of study, which finds its origins in the French Enlightenment, and its most salient expression as a sociological pursuit in the work of Pierre Bourdieu. Addressing the epistemological premises of the field at present, the book also refutes the common criticism that the sociology of literature does not take the text to be the central object of study. From this rebuttal, Gisèle Sapiro, the field's leading theorist, is able to demonstrate convincingly one of the greatest affordances of the discipline: its in-built methods for accounting for the roles and behaviors of agents and institutions (publishing houses, prize committees, etc.) in the circulation and reception of texts. While Sapiro emphasizes the rich interdisciplinary nature of the approach on display, articulating the way in which it draws on literary history, sociology, postcolonial studies, book history, gender studies, and media studies, among others, the book also stands as a defense of the sociology of literature as a discipline in its own right.
I: Sociological Theories and Approaches to Literature
II: The Social Conditions for the Production of Literary Works
III: The Sociology of Literary Works
IV: Sociology of Reception
Gisèle Sapiro is CNRS Research Director and Professor of Sociology at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). She is the author of The French Writers' War (1940–1953) (2014).
"This erudite, yet accessible book has no equal. The quality and breadth of Sapiro's scholarship is excellent. We would have to go back to a thinker like Adorno for a scholar as proficient in both literary research and sociological theory."—Bridget Fowler, University of Glasgow
"Sapiro's clear survey of the sociology of literature synthesizes Bourdieu's field theory with other approaches, adding subtle, provocative twists of her own. This book is essential reading for scholars and students of literary theory and the sociology of culture."—Andrew Goldstone, Rutgers University
"The Sociology of Literature is distinguished by unusual breadth of scope, both international and interdisciplinary. This book will be of great interest not only to sociologists but to literary scholars, historians, and anyone else interested in the systematic study of written culture."—Ted Underwood, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
"a concise but comprehensive handbook... which showcases a wide range of approaches and research problems in literary sociology."—Lee Konstantinou, Chronicle of Higher Education