21L.715 | Fall 2007 | Undergraduate
Media in Cultural Context: Popular Readerships

Readings

SES # TOPICS READINGS
1 Introductions: You, Me, Oprah (no readings)
2 Oprah’s Book Club I

Max, D. T. “The Oprah Effect.” The New York Times, December 26, 1999.

Young, John. “Toni Morrison, Oprah Winfrey, and Postmodern Popular Audiences.” African American Review 35, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 181-204.

Video: Oprah remembers Book Club History

3 Oprah’s Book Club II

Illouz, Eva. “Pain and Circuses.” Chapter 4 in Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2003. ISBN: 9780231118125.

Barnard, Rita. “Oprah’s Paton, or South Africa and the Globalization of Suffering.” Safundi 7, no. 3 (July 2006): 1-21.

Oprah’s Archive of her Book Club choices

Suggested

McHenry, Elizabeth. Forgotten Readers: Recovering the Lost History of African American Literary Societies. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002, pp. 298-315, 384-386. ISBN: 9780822329954.

Oprah vs. Franzen

Rejecting the Oprah Sticker: This is a brief piece about the tiff between Oprah and Jonathan Franzen, who is arguably one of those white male modernist writers that John Young talks about in his article. Their dispute developed after Franzen was less than enthusiastic about The Corrections being chosen for Oprah’s Book Club. It still won a National Book Award. [Miller, Laura. “Book Lovers’ Quarrel.” Salon.com, October 26, 2001.

4 Theories of reading I

Poulet, Georges. “Phenomenology of Reading.” New Literary History 1 (1969): 53-68.

Iser, Wolfgang. “Interaction Between Text and Reader.” In Prospecting: From Reader Response to Literary Anthropology. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993 [1989], pp. 31-41. ISBN: 9780801845932.

Wikipedia: Phenomenology

5 Oprah’s Book Club III (no readings)
6 Theories of reading II

Fish, Stanley. “Literature in the Reader: Affective Stylistics.” New Literary History 2, no. 1, A Symposium on Literary History (Autumn 1970): 123-162.

———. “Interpreting the Variorum.” Critical Inquiry 3, no. 1 (Autumn 1976): 191-196.

7 The sociology and history of reading I

de Certeau, Michel. “Reading as Poaching.” In The Practice of Everyday Life. Translated by Steven Rendall. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002 [1984], pp. 165-176. ISBN: 9780520236998.

Chartier, Roger. “Labourers and Voyagers: From the Text to the Reader.” In The Book History Reader. Edited by David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery. New York, NY: Routledge, 2001, pp. 47-58. ISBN: 9780415226585.

Suggested

Darnton, Robert. “First Steps Towards a History of Reading.” In The Kiss of Lamourette: Reflections in Cultural History. New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 1990, pp. 154-187, 364-369. ISBN: 9780393027532.

8 The sociology and history of reading II

Zboray, Robert. “Gender and Boundlessness in Reading Patterns.” In A Fictive People: Antebellum Economic Development and the American Reading Public. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1992, pp. 163-179, 251-258. ISBN: 9780195075823.

Davis, Natalie Zemon. “Printing and the People.” In Society and Culture in Early Modern France: Eight Essays. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1975, pp. 189-226, 326-336. ISBN: 9780804709729.

9 The sociology and history of reading III

Henkin, David M. “Print in Public.” In City Reading: Written Words and Public Spaces in Antebellum. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1998, pp. 101-135, 197-203. ISBN: 9780231107457.

Denning, Michael. “Fiction Factories: The Production of Dime Novels.” In Mechanic Accents: Dime Novels and Working-Class Culture in America. Revised edition. London, UK: Verso, 1998, pp. 17-26, 214-216. ISBN: 9781859842508.

———. “The Uses of Literacy: Class, Culture and Dime Novel Controversies.” In Mechanic Accents: Dime Novels and Working-Class Culture in America. Revised edition. London, UK: Verso, 1998, pp. 47-61, 221-222. ISBN: 9781859842508.

10 Reading and social identity I

Altick, Richard. “The Social Background.” In The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading Public 1800-1900. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1957, pp. 81-98.

Rose, Jonathan. “Rereading the English Common Reader.” In The Book History Reader. Edited by David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery. New York, NY: Routledge, 2001, pp. 324-339. ISBN: 9780415226585.

11 Reading and social identity II

Radway, Janice. “A Feeling for Books: The Book-of-the-Month Club, Literary Taste and Middle-Class Drive.” In The Book History Reader. Edited by David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery. New York, NY: Routledge, 2001, pp. 359-371. ISBN: 9780415226585.

Tompkins, Jane. “Masterpiece Theatre: The Politics of Hawthorne’s Literary Reputation.” In The Book History Reader. Edited by David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery. New York, NY: Routledge, 2001, pp. 250-258. ISBN: 9780415226585.

12 Reading and social identity III (no readings)
13 Reading as resistance I

Cornelius, Janet Duitsman. “Slaves, Religion and Reading.” In When I Can Read My Title Clear: Literacy, Slavery, and Religion in the Antebellum South. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1992, pp. 11-36, 154-159. ISBN: 9780872498716.

Douglass, Frederick. Chapter VI in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Edited by William L. Andrews and William S. McFeely. New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 1997, pp. 28-35. ISBN: 9780393969665. (The e-text is available via of Project Gutenberg.)

Suggested

Henson, Josiah. In The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada (1849). Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing, 2007. ISBN: 9780548593233.

14 Reading as resistance II Class guest: Professor Alisa Braithwaite
15 Romance readers I

Radway, Janice. “The Readers and their Romances.” In Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature. 2nd ed. Durham, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1991, pp. 46-85. ISBN: 9780807843499.

Parameswaran, Radhika. “Western Romance Fiction as English-Language Media in Postcolonial India.” Journal of Communication 49, no. 3 (Summer 1999): 84-105.

In addition to reading these two articles, you must also go to a bookstore and buy a mass market romance novel (a REAL mass market romance novel, in a major romance series). And read it. In a public place.

Out of class: Go visit a comics shop
16 Romance readers II Radway, Janice. “Introduction: Writing Reading the Romance.” In Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature. 2nd ed. Durham, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1991, pp. 46-85. ISBN: 9780807843499.
17 Fandom I

Brown, Jeffrey. “Comic Book Fandom.” Black Superheroes, Milestone Comics, and Their Fans. Jackson, MI: University of Mississippi Press, 2001, pp. 58-92, 205. ISBN: 9781578062829.
This is a wonderful piece. One of my favorite studies of fan behavior. The material about comics fans at their annual convention is priceless.

Class Guest: Jeet Heer

Discussion of comics shop visit

The following blogs feature debates that arise as the comic book industry deals with the state of comic book shops. Your task in reading these sites is threefold: follow this controversy and see what it says about fandom and about blogs as a medium; pay attention to gender, which is featured especially in the entry from Jennifer De Guzman (SLG-news); follow the discussion BEYOND these four links, and see where else the debate goes through links and comments. Come to class prepared to comment.

The righteous anger of Eric Reynolds by Heidi MacDonald in The Beat: The News Blog of Comics Culture (September 1, 2007)

On being a grown-up in the comic-book industry by Christopher Butcher in Comics212 (September 3, 2007)

Why Comic Shops Still Matter, Or At Least Why They Should by Tom Spurgeon in The Comics Report (September 10, 2007)

The State of Comic Shops by Jennider De Guzman in SLG: Better Comics Through Superior Firepower by SLG Publishing News (September 12, 2007)

18 Fandom II

Jenkins, Henry. “Scribbling in the Margins: Fan Readers / Fan Writers.” Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. New York, NY: Routledge, 1992, pp. 152-184. ISBN: 9780415905725.

Penley, Constance. “Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Study of Popular Culture.” Cultural Studies. Edited by Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson, and Paula A. Treichler. New York, NY: Routledge, 1991, pp. 479-494. ISBN: 9780415903455.

In addition to reading these two articles, you must also browse the internet for fan fiction sites (and/or anti fan fiction sites) to familiarize yourself with what the internet has meant for the field of fan behavior that Jenkins and Penley scrutinize so closely and so intelligently in their work.

19 A visit to the Rare Books Department at the Boston Public Library (no readings)
20 The bestseller

Miller, Laura. “The Best-Seller List as Marketing Tool and Historical Fiction.” Book History 3 (2000): 286-304.

Twitchell, James B. “Paperbacked Culture.” Carnival Culture: The Trashing of Taste in America. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1992, pp. 67-81, 98-130. ISBN: 9780231078306.

Suggested

Squaires, Claire. Marketing Literature: The Making of Contemporary Writing in Britain. London, UK: Palgrave, 2007, chapter 1. ISBN: 9781403997739.
This reading covers a lot of ground, charting changes that happened throughout the 1990s in the book trades. Her focus is London, but what she says certain applies just as well to a US context. It will help you think about how certain books become bestsellers (especially certain literary books).

Brouillette, Sarah. “The Paperback.” In The Oxford Companion to the Book. Forthcoming.

Out of class: Go visit a mega-chain bookstore, and watch You’ve Got Mail.
21 Bookstores, online and off-line

Class Guest: Laura J. Miller

Miller, Laura J. “Serving the Entertained Consumer: The Multifunction Bookstore.” In Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2006, pp. 104-139, 258-263. ISBN: 9780226525907.

Gardiner, Juliet. “Reformulating the Reader: Internet Bookselling and its Impact on the Construction of Reading Practices.” Changing English 9, no. 2 (October 2002): 161-168.

Suggested

Miller, Laura J. Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2006, pp. 104-139, 258-263. ISBN: 9780226525907.

22 FADS: reading as social engineering

Fuller, Danielle, and DeNel Rehberg Sedo. “A Reading Spectacle for the Nation: The CBC and ‘Canada Reads’.” Journal of Canadian Studies 40, no. 1 (Winter 2006): 5-36.

After reading this article, visit the Library of Congress Web site “One Book” Reading Promotion Projects or find another way to learn about a citywide, regional, or national “mass reading” event that interests you. Learn something about it and come to class prepared to talk about it. See if you can find out who funds the program and who “benefits” from it.

23 FADS: Harry Potter mania

Nel, Philip. “Is There a Text in this Advertising Campaign?: Literature, Marketing, and Harry Potter.” The Lion and the Unicorn 29, no. 2 (2005): 236-267.

Waetjen, Jarrod, and Timothy Gibson. “Harry Potter and the Commodity Fetish: Activating Corporate Readings in the Journey from Text to Commercial Intertext.” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 4, no. 1 (March 2007): 3-26.

Suggested

Bérubé, Michael. “Harry Potter and the Power of Narrative.” The Common Review 6, no. 1 (Summer 2007): 15-20.

24 Research presentations (no readings)
25 Wrapping up (no readings)
Course Info
As Taught In
Fall 2007
Learning Resource Types
assignment Presentation Assignments
assignment Written Assignments