The Social Life of Books

Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: Literary Studies

Liberal Arts
Undergraduate Course
Degree Students
The Social Life of Books
Fall 2023
Taught By: Alexandra Chasin
Section: A

CRN: 15727

Credits: 4

Why do you like the books you like; what do they mean about you? How did you come to have the literary taste you have? What institutions, practices and beliefs contributed to your relationship with books? School? Libraries? Bookstores? Parents? Religion? This course investigates the process of acculturation, of coming to have taste, while looking at the social values that are attached to writing, literature, and books in the early twenty-first century in the U.S. What kinds of beliefs have we developed about writing and literature – individually, by social group, especially by class, and nationally – and how have we arrived at these beliefs? How are they manifest in canonization? How do power and identity – or status – dynamics of race, ethnicity, class, and gender, linguistic identity, and national identification – affect evaluations of literature? We look at books in quite material terms, complete with field trips to NYC sites, but we also consider the ways in which digitization affects the very meaning of the word. What are books any more? We will consider books as: commodities, displays of status, valuable antiques, art objects, free and circulating to the public, receptacles, carriers, symbols of knowledge, and increasingly outmoded technology of reading. This course counts as an elective for the media track in Culture and Media.

After the first week of the semester, permission of instructor will be required in order to register for this course.

College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)

Department: Literary Studies (LIT)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Modality: In-Person

Max Enrollment: 18

Add/Drop Deadline: September 11, 2023 (Monday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: November 19, 2023 (Sunday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Closed*

* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 5:52pm EST 12/5/2023

Meeting Info:
Days: Monday, Wednesday
Times: 2:00pm - 3:40pm
Building: Eugene Lang 65 W11th
Room: 258
Date Range: 8/28/2023 - 12/11/2023