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Journal Article

American Character and the American Novel: An Expansion of Reflection Theory in the Sociology of Literature

Wendy Griswold
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 86, No. 4 (Jan., 1981), pp. 740-765
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2778341
Page Count: 26
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American Character and the American Novel: An Expansion of Reflection Theory in the Sociology of Literature
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Abstract

Attempting to specify how literature "reflects" society, this study describes the analysis of a random sample of 130 novels published in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Novels by Americans are compared with those by foreign authors over four time periods. The sample novels reflect the different market positions occupied by the two groups of authors owing to the presence or absence of international copyright protection, the formal demands of the genre, the sex of the author, and several distinctive national characteristics, including treatment of race, middle-class protagonists, and domestic settings.

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