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Sociology and Literature

ENGL 799.401


This course will consider sociology and literature as technologies for representing the social world; it will also consider sociological and literary approaches to the novel. We will pay particular attention to histories of realism and naturalism, to critiques of cultural value, and to practices of observation shared between literature and sociology. Topics will include: the literary field, institutions of literary production, distribution, and reception, and more general questions in the sociology of culture. In the second half of the course, we will consider a series of case studies—we will read novels (Flaubert’s Sentimental Education, Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, Richard Wright’s Black Boy, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved) that have either been the object of sociological interpretation or have been understood as sociological in themselves (or both).  

Readings will include work by Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Georg Simmel, W. E. B. Du Bois, Pierre Bourdieu, Georg Lukacs, Howard Becker, Avery Gordon, Ian Watt, Franco Moretti, Michele Lamont, Lucien Goldmann, Erving Goffman, Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams, Roland Barthes, Frederic Jameson, Clifford Geertz, Janice Radway, Wendy Griswold, and Roderick Ferguson.

Undergraduates are not permitted to take 700-level courses.

fulfills requirements