As the title indicates, I will be looking at the multi-faceted and problematic relationship between literature and society from opposite perspectives: from that of literature or, rather, the literary theorist who inevitably finds literature immersed in society, and from that of society or the sociologist who also has to deal with the somewhat strange phenomenon called literature. Both are, of course, no more than heuristic positions chosen in order to give some structure to my approach to an often discussed yet perennially challenging topic. If, however, this strategy might suggest that it is perfectly obvious what is meant by ‘literature’ and by ‘society’, and that it is only the character of the relation between the two that is a matter of dispute, I had better say at this point that I will be operating on the opposite assumption – namely, that this relation will become clear once it has been settled which of the many possible and at least partly controversial notions of ‘literature’ and ‘society’ is used by me and by this or that important theorist from the field of literary theory or sociology.
The list of ‘Works Cited’ will show the works I will refer to. Those in bold type will be discussed in more detail.
- Althusser, Louis. “A Letter on Art in Reply to André Daspre.” In Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. Transl. Ben Brewster. London: New Left Books, 1971.
- Altick, Richard D. The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading Public, 1800-1900. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.
- Attridge, Derek. The Singularity of Literature. London and New York: Routledge, 2004.
- Bennett, H.S. English Books and Readers 1475 to 1557. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952.
- English Books and Readers 1558 to 1603. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965.
- English Books and Readers 1603 to 1640. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970.
- Bourdieu, Pierre. The Rules of Art. Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field. Transl. Susan Emanuel. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996.
- Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Complete Works, edited by Walter W. Skeat. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1895.
- Derrida, Jacques. “This Strange Institution Called Literature.” In Acts of Literature, edited by Derek Attridge. London and New York: Routledge, 1992.
- Foer, Jonathan Safran. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. London: Hamish Hamilton, 2005.
- Gedin, Per. Literature in the Marketplace. London: Faber and Faber, 1982.
- Grabes, Herbert. “Introduction: Literature and Philosophy – A Relationship under Debate.” In Literature and Philosophy, edited by Herbert Grabes. REAL 13. Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 1997, 1-13.
- ”Three Theories of Literary Worldmaking: Phenomenological (Roman Ingarden), Constructivist (Nelson Goodman), Cognitive Psychologist (Schank and Abelson).” In Cultural Ways of Worldmaking. Media and Narratives, edited by Vera Nünning, Ansgar Nünning, Birgit Neumann. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2010, 47-60.
- Hoffmann, Heinrich. Struwwelpeter. Frankfurt: Zacharias Löwenthal, 1847.
- Luhmann, Niklas. Art as a Social System. Transl. Eva M. Knodt. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000.
- Schriften zu Kunst und Literatur, edited by Niels Werber. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2008.
- Miller, Hillis. On Literature. London and New York: Routledge, 2002.
- Nabokov, Vladimir. Look at the Harlequins! New York: McGraw-Hill, 1974.
- Oatley, Keith. Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
- Pfister, Marcus. Der Regenbogenfisch. 27th edition, Zurich: Nord-Süd Verlag, 1995.
- The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. 2 vols., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.
- Widdowson, Peter. Literature. London and New York: Routledge; 1999.
- Zapf, Hubert. Literatur als kulturelle Ökologie. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 2002.
- ”The State of Ecocriticism and the Function of Literature as Cultural Ecology.” In Nature in Literary and Cultural Studies. Transatlantic Conversations on Ecocriticism. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006, 49-69.