Theory of the Text
Literature and Society
Literature as a Cultural Field
Theory of the Text
Virginia Woolf, “How Should One Read a Book?” The Second Common Reader: Annotated Edition (San Diego: Harcourt Inc., 2003), 258-270
Jeanette Winterson, “Writer, Reader, Words,” in Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery (New York: Vintage International, 1997), 25-44
Paul Ricœur, “What is a Text? Explanation and Understanding,” From Text to Action: Essays in Hermeneutics, II (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1991), 105-124
Edward W. Said, “The Problem of Textuality: Two Exemplary Positions,” Critical Inquiry 4, 4 (1978): 673-714 (read 673-681)
Roland Barthes, “Work to Text,” in Image, Music, Text (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1977), 156-164
Hayden White, “The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality,” The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987), 1-25
Dorrit Cohn, The Distinction of Fiction (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), 1-37, 109-131
Ian Watt, “Realism and the Novel Form,” The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson and Fielding (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 9-34
Pericles Lewis, The Cambridge Introduction to Modernism (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 1-53
Franco Moretti, “The Novel: History and Theory,” Distant Reading (London: Verso, 2013), 159-178
Literature and Society
Georg Lukács, “Realism in the Balance” , in Theodor Adorno et al., Aesthetics and Politics (London: Verso, 2007), 28-59
[Recommended Reading: Thomas Mann, “Tonio Kröger” (1903), in Death in Venice and Seven Other Stories (New York: Vintage International, 1989), 75-132]
[Supplemental Reading] Imre Szeman, “Marxist Literary Criticism, Then and Now,” Mediations 24, 2 (Spring 2009): 36-47
Leo Lowenthal, “Literature and Society,” Literature, Popular Culture, and Society (Palo Alto, CA: Pacific Books, 1961), 141-161
Leo Lowenthal, “The Classical French Drama,” Literature and The Image of Man: Studies of the European Drama and Novel, 1600-1900 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1966), 98-135
Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin), “The Misanthrope” , In The Misanthrope and Other Plays (London: Penguin Books, 1959), 23-75
Ian Watt, “The Reading Public and the Rise of the Novel,” The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson and Fielding (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 35-59
Ian Watt, “Love and The Novel: ‘Pamela,’” The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson and Fielding (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 135-173
[Recommended Reading: Samuel Richardson, Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001)]
Lucien Goldmann, “The Revolt of the Arts and Letters in Advanced Civilizations,” Cultural Creation in Modern Society (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1977), 51-75
Lucien Goldmann, “Interdependencies Between Industrial Society and New Forms of Literary Creation,” Cultural Creation in Modern Society (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1977), 76-88
Literature as a Cultural Field
Pierre Bourdieu, “The Intellectual Field: A World Apart,” In Other Words: Essays Towards a Reflexive Sociology (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990), 140-149
Pierre Bourdieu, “The Production of Belief: Contribution to an Economy of Symbolic Goods,” The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 74-111
Pierre Bourdieu, “Prologue/ Flaubert, Analyst of Flaubert: A Reading of Sentimental Education,” The Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996), 1-43
[Recommended Reading: Gustave Flaubert, Sentimental Education , Revised Edition (New York: Penguin Classics, 2004)]
Franco Moretti, “Modern European Literature: A Geographical Sketch,” Distant Reading (London: Verso, 2013), 1-42
Franco Moretti, “Conjectures on World Literature,” Distant Reading (London: Verso, 2013), 43-62
Walter Benjamin, “The Author as Producer,” Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings (New York and London: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1978), 220-238
Walter Benjamin, “The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction,” in Hannah Arendt ed., Illuminations (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), 19-34
E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Validity in Interpretation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967), 1-19, 127-207
[Supplemental reading] W. K. Wimsatt, “The Intentional Fallacy,” The Verbal Icon: Studies in the Meaning of Poetry (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1954), 3-18
Michel Foucault, “What is an Author?” in Josué V. Harari ed., Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structuralist Criticism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1979), 141-160
Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author,” in Image, Music, Text (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1977), 142-148
Maurice Blanchot, The Space of Literature (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1982), 21-34
Sigmund Freud, “The Creative Writer and Daydreaming,” in The Uncanny (London and New York: Penguin, 2003), 25-34
Mark McGurl, The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009)
[Supplemental reading] H. Porter Abbott, “Narration,” The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, Second Edition (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 67-82
[Supplemental reading] Wayne C. Booth, “Telling and Showing,” The Rhetoric of Fiction, Second Edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), 3-20
Pierre Bourdieu, “Outline of a Sociological Theory of Art Perception.” The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 215-237
Pierre Bourdieu, “Principles for a Sociology of Cultural Works.” The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 176-191
Wolfgang Iser, “The Reading Process: A Phenomenological Approach,” in Jane P. Tompkins ed., Reader-Response Criticism: From Formalism to Post-Structuralism (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980), 50-69
Pierre Bourdieu, “Reading, Readers, the Literate, Literature.” In Other Words: Essays Towards a Reflexive Sociology (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990), 94-105
Jeanette Winterson, “Art Objects,” in Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery (New York: Vintage International, 1997), 3-21
Janice A. Radway, Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature (Charlotte: University of North Carolina Press, 1991)
Michael Wood, Literature and the Taste of Knowledge (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 1-12, 37-67 (“Introduction: Among the Analogies” and “After Such Knowledge”)
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (San Diego: Harcourt, Inc., 1989), 3-24
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (San Diego: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1927)
The New York Times has published another one of those cyclical articles about how the humanities are in deep trouble. Stanford is offered as an example:
Some 45 percent of the faculty members in Stanford’s main undergraduate division are clustered in the humanities — but only 15 percent of the students.
With Stanford’s reputation in technology, it is no wonder that computer science is the university’s most popular major, and that there are no longer any humanities programs among the top five. But with the recession having helped turn college, in the popular view, into largely a tool for job preparation, administrators are concerned.
The article goes on to note that “the percentage of humanities majors hovers around 7 percent — half the 14 percent share in 1970.” But then it points out “that decline occurred between 1970, the high point, and 1985, not in recent years.” Thus, if a crisis in the humanities exists, it arose in those 15 years. Which begs the question: why so angsty about the humanities today?
There is a deeper problem with this account. Counting “majors” is not a good measurement of the role that humanities programs play since it overlooks “service” courses and overall enrollments in humanities courses (majors and non-majors).
The reason universities are defunding (or de-emphasizing) humanities programs is because they do not generate large research grants. Science and tech programs are lavished with such funding from private capital and public sources (NSF, NIH). “Digital Humanities” are “hot” from the standpoint of administrators because they are more susceptible to external funding (the application of “digital” sounds like money). This is likely the reason why Franco Moretti feels invigorated.
You look at this university’s extraordinary science and technology achievements, and if you wonder what will happen to the humanities, you can be threatened, or you can be invigorated,” said Franco Moretti, the director of the Stanford Literary Lab. “I’m choosing to be invigorated.
At the level of intellectual practice, what does the Literary Lab (borrowing the word “lab” from the hard sciences is a neat branding move) offer the humanities?
At Stanford, digital humanities get some of that vigor: In “Teaching Classics in the Digital Age,” graduate students use Rap Genius, a popular website for annotating lyrics from rappers like Jay-Z and Eminem, to annotate Homer and Virgil. In a Literary Lab project on 18th-century novels, English students study a database of nearly 2,000 early books to tease out when “romances,” “tales” and “histories” first emerged as novels, and what the different terms signified. And in “Introduction to Critical Text Mining,” English, history and computer majors use R software to break texts into chunks to analyze novels and Supreme Court rulings.
Number crunching novels or Supreme Court decisions in high positivist fashion won’t bring the meaning of the texts any closer to hand. However, the creation of digital archives is a more worthwhile use of technology.