Reading and Popular Culture
Ian Collinson [+–]
Ian Collinson is a learning advisor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. He teaches at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels and has worked in adult education for nearly a decade. His research interests are in the area of popular culture: book reading; genre fiction, popular music; and cultural theory and politics.
Book reading often seems to function as a barometer of cultural vitality. For those who wish to argue that we live in a dumbed-down age, the alleged decline in book reading often becomes the benchmark of falling cultural standards. Although pessimistic critics and commentators may shout that the time of the book is over, as they have since the fifteenth century, millions of readers worldwide are not listening to them. Despite the allure of television and the internet, book reading remains a popular activity. However, despite the huge global audiences for books, it is surprising that the complexity of everyday book culture is not readily comprehended.
To the apparently simple and perennial question: ‘what do people do with books?’, this research offers a sophisticated response that goes beyond the narrow perception that reading is solely the consumption of narrative. It combines a number of different academic approaches (cultural geography and sociology; literary and cultural studies; and cultural history) in order to better understand the complex nature of readers’ everyday encounters with their books. Through the use of an ethnographic method, which grounds the analysis firmly in the experience of real embodied readers, this work reveals the rich textures of everyday reading culture. It demonstrates how seemingly mundane acts of popular reading are, in fact, complex performances enabled and curtailed simultaneously by three cultural economies: the spatio-temporal, the social and the textual. While the consumption of narrative (often thought to be an entirely adequate definition of reading) remains significant, it is only a single element in an everyday reading practice that is, as this book shows, anything but ordinary.
Table of Contents
Introduction [+–] 1 – 8
About the benefits od reading
About culture and literature
How people read
´You give a bit of yourself when you give a book´: books, readers and social networks [+–] 57 – 88
About books, readers and social networks
The extra-textual dimension
Doing things with books: listening to everyday readers [+–] 123 – 128
List of References [+–] 129 – 141
A Reader profiles [+–] 142 – 150
B Conducting the interviews [+–] 151 – 152
Index [+–] 153 – 155