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Sociology of Literature

Sociology 322 CRN 5244

Winter 2008

Professor Rod Nelson

Leacock 832
Office hours: T&TH 11:30-12:30
(and by appointment)
Office ph: 398-6212

Class period T and Th: 11:35-12:25

Classroom: Burnside 1B36

Course Description
This course is a review of sociological research on the production, readership, and broader social implications of
literature. Topics will include: the issue of whether literature "reflects" society, the use of literature in establishing
collective identities, and reading as a social practice.

Required Texts:
Wendy Griswold, Bearing Witness; Readers, Writers, and the Novel in Nigeria. Princeton University Press.
Sarah Corse, Nationalism and Literature: The Politics of Culture in Canada and the United States. Cambridge
Ken Gelder, Popular Fiction: The Logics and Practices of a Literary Field. London: Routledge.

These books are available in the campus bookstore and are also on reserve in the library.

Additional Required Readings: The readings marked with asterisks (**) in the outline below are available on
course reserve in the library, and are also available in the campus bookstore through the Eastman copy service. You
may also access pdf files of most of these readings online.

Course Requirements
1. Mid-term Exam: There will be a mid-term test worth 25% of your final grade. This test will be given on
Thursday, February 13 during the regular class time period. Failure to take the test on the scheduled day will
result in a grade of F for that test, unless there is some legitimate extenuating circumstance and arrangements are
made in advance.
2. Final Exam: A final exam worth 30% of your course grade will be given during the finals period. This final
examination will not be cumulative, that is, you will be responsible only for the material covered during the last half
of the course.
3. Course Paper: One term paper will be assigned during the semester. This essay will be worth 45% of your
final grade and it will be due Tuesday, April 8. A late paper will not be accepted unless there is some legitimate
extenuating circumstance, and I reserve the right to reduce the grade of any essay that is turned in late. This paper
should be approximately 10 double-spaced pages in length. See below for the stylistic guidelines for the essay.

Course Outline
Lecture Topics and Reading Assignments
Week 1

Overview of the Field

Readings: ** Griswold, "Recent Moves in the Sociology of Literature; ** Bourdieu, Flaubert's
Point of View."

Week 2

Occupations and Career Paths: Authors and Writers

Readings: ** Craig, Practicing Poetry; ** Blom, "Tracing literary Careers; Griswold, Bearing
Witness (chapters 1 and 2)

Week 3

Occupations and the Publishing Institutions: Agents, Editors, and Critics

Readings: ** Fritschner "Literary Agents and Literary Traditions; **Juby, Editor to Author; **
Pool Vermin, Dogs, and Woodpeckers

Week 4

Literary Sociology
Readings: Griswold, Bearing Witness (chapters 3 and 4)

Week 5

Historical Sociology of Literature

Readings: ** Laslett, "The Wrong Way Through the Telescope; ** Hopkins, Novel Evidence for
Roman Slavery; **Handler and Segal, Hierarchies of Choice: The Social Construction of Rank in
Jane Austen

Week 6

The Rise of the Novel

Readings: ** Watt, The Reading Public and the Rise of the Novel; **Choi, The Metropolis and
Mental Life in the Novel

Mid-term Test on Thursday, February 13

Week 7

Nationalism and Literature

Readings: Corse, Nationalism and Literature

Week 8 NOTE:

Study Week: February 24-March 1

Week 9

Popular Literature
Readings: Gelder, Popular Fiction

Week 10

Sociology of Reading
Readings: **Bautz, Early Nineteenth-Century Readers of Jane Austen; ** Rose, The Difference
Between Fact and Fiction

Week 11

Readers and Reading Groups

Readings: ** Long, Literature as a Spur to Collective Action; ** Lamb, The Talking Life of
Books: Women Readers in Oprahs Book Club; ** Fuller and Sedo, A Reading Spectacle for the
Nation: The CBC and Canada Reads


Thursday, March 20, 2008 follows a Monday schedule.

Thursday, March 20, 2008 - The normal Thursday schedule of course activities is cancelled for March 20. In its
place, all lectures, labs, conferences and other course-related activities that are cancelled on Monday, March 24
because of Easter Monday will be held on Thursday, March 20.

Week 12

Uses of Literature in Sociology/Uses of Sociology in Literature

Readings: **Best, Status! Yes!: Tom Wolfe as a Sociological Thinker; **Bjorklund,
Sociologists in Twentieth-Century Novels

NOTE: Term papers are due Tuesday, April 8

Week 13

The Future of the Book

Readings: ** Chartier,Readers and Reading in the Electronic Age

last day of class, Thursday April 10



Typing: Your essays must be typed and double-spaced with at least an inch margin on all sides.
Language: You may write your essays in either French or English.
Punctuation: Punctuation is important. Learning where to place commas and quotation marks, and how to use
semi-colons and the "em dash", are skills that will stand you in good stead. Regrettably, some students have not
mastered the basics of punctuation in their preceding education, or have not been in a position where they have been
forced to exercise these skills. Fortunately, help is available. The "Online reference sites" section in the McGill
Library website has a "Writing Tools" page which is very useful Strunkk and White's Elements of Style (available in the

reference section of the library, PE1408 S772; the first edition is also available online) is a useful acquisition for
every student. They go over most of the elementary rules of punctuation, but you might want to consult some other
style manuals for more detailed examples of correct usage. There is a excellent section on punctuation in The
Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition, 2003) kept at the reference library desk, but also available online Students are often unaware that the better hardback
dictionaries also contain guides to grammar and punctuation.
Spelling: If you use the "spell check" feature of a word-processing program, you will still need to review your
essays for spelling mistakes. These programs will not correct homonyms, nor will they correct some of the
specialized terminology of sociology. If you are using a word that you do not normally use, or are not quite sure of
its exact meaning or spelling, look it up in the dictionary. Choosing the wrong word is a common problem in student
essays. (Note: the most common spelling mistake I find in student papers is the misuse of the conjunction "it's" and
the possessive "its").
Long Quotations: If you are quoting a passage from a text that takes up five or more lines when you have typed it
out, you will need to indent and single space this quote in your essay. Note: you should not put quotation marks
around such an indented passage. The fact that it is indented signals to the reader that this is a direct quote (you will,
of course, need to cite the source of the quotation at the end of the quote--see below).
Essay format: Subtitles or section headings are often useful as a means of segmenting various aspects of your
analysis. Number the pages of your paper in some consistent fashion. Be aware that you need to place references in
the essay when you are quoting from a textual source, or when you are paraphrasing some textual argument. Failure
to do so will be considered an act of plagiarism (see below) and you will be penalized accordingly.
Citation Style: Please follow the sociology citation style guide listed under the citation guides by subject section
of the McGill librarys website: (American Sociological
Association (ASA) format).
Reference Page: You must also include a complete list of references at the end of your essay. The American
Sociological Association (ASA) form that you are using for citation styles also has information on constructing a
reference page.
Proofreading: As you have inferred by now, you will have to pay attention to matters of form, grammar, spelling,
syntax, appropriate usage, and style to do well on your essays. The key is to proofread your papers, and rewrite and
edit your draft copies.
Plagiarism: McGill's policy on plagiarism is as follows:
McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore all students must understand the meaning and consequences
of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offenses under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures
(see for more information).
'universit McGill attache une haute importance l'honntet acadmique. Il incombe par consquent tous les
tudiants de comprendre ce que l'on entend par tricherie, plagiat et autres infractions acadmiques, ainsi que les
consquences que peuvent avoir de telles actions, selon le Code de conduite de l'tudiant et des procdures
disciplinaires (pour de plus amples renseignements, veuillez consulter le site

Plagiarism is a form of deviant behavior that brings with it severe sanctions. A report on plagiarized material
submitted in class will be sent to the Associate Dean who may take additional action in accordance with the "Code of
Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures" as outlined in Chapter three of McGill's A Handbook of Student
Rights and Responsibilities (available online).
There are several sorts of plagiarism. The most obvious sort is to steal whole passages from some text and claim the
result as your own work. But incorporating any textual material in your essay (beyond a commonplace word or two)
without acknowledging its source is also a case of plagiarizing. You must put quotation marks around such material
if it is a direct reproduction of textual material. You may, of course, paraphrase some argument that appears in a text,

but your paraphrasing must involve more than altering a word or two, and you must also provide a reference at the
end of your paraphrase to the page number of the text where the argument originally appears. Further discussion of
the nature of plagiarism can be found in item #15, section III (Academic Offenses) of McGill's A Handbook of
Student Rights and Responsibilities (available online).
If you are unclear as to whether what you are engaging in plagiarism, do not take chances! Please see me.

Please Note Regarding final exams: According to Senate regulations, instructors are not permitted to make special
arrangements for final exams. Please consult the Calendar, section, General University Information and
Regulations at