Twentieth and twenty-first-century literary communities
Rehberg Sedo, DeNel
This essay is a contribution to the scholarly research on collective reading practices. In it, I identify some of the contemporary debates around reading literature, and in particular, what constitutes “good” literature. I focus on groups of readers, which are, of course, comprised of individual readers. Literary communities position reading not only as an individual activity but also as a social one, and they provide opportunities to evaluate how literary taste and taste hierarchies are influenced by social structures. By attending to the ideological and political basis of groups of readers, the text is set aside as an object of analysis and instead the emphasis rests in the social structures that revolve around readers and their reading choices. In their interactions with contemporary ruling relations of power, such as the mass media, educational institutions and government agencies, readers in groups demonstrate agency while also reflecting -- and sometimes contesting -- the hierarchical positions assigned to particular books and their readers.
American Fiction , American History , Literary communities