I describe my research as a sociology of literature. The interdisciplinary work has theoretical foundation in French cultural theorist Pierre Bourdieu’s notions of social and cultural capital, symbolic power and power structures, cultural fields, and habitus; American Educational and Media philosopher Douglas Kellner’s understanding of contemporary media, and media spectacle in particular; American sociologist Paul DiMaggio’s categorical hierarchies of taste and individual/collective/institutional agency influenced by class positions; and, Canadian sociologist Dorothy Smith’s feminist standpoint theory and her theory of ruling relations of power. The work might be situated within the interdisciplinary fields of communication, cultural, and cyber studies.
I approach the professional field of Communication in which I teach much as I do the reading cultures that I investigate. Power relations are at the crux of my research interests. I want to know who has it and why, what do they do with it, and to what effect.
Using mixed methods that transfer across disciplinary inquiry, I investigate reading as a socially embedded activity. I analyse and critique media production and representation of contemporary and historical reading practices. I explore the production itself and people’s interpretations of those representations, the literature people read, and the articulations of their reading experiences. Moreover, I critically assess the relationships that form around cultural participation. These analyses necessarily consider the broader social, cultural and political contexts in which we live. Because of my scholarly “training” in cultural studies criticism, I privilege the concepts of gender, class, sexuality, occupation, ethnicity, and religion in my research.
Beyond the Book is my large, international research project. I love this project, and am so proud of all that Danielle and I have done to create solid research that will help us better understand the role of reading in our lives (at least in our lives in NA and the UK). We surrounded ourselves with incredibly smart team members, and met unbelievably kind and giving people in our travels. The fruits of our efforts — read resources—are available for you to peruse on our webpage. Our book is called Reading Beyond the Book: The Social Practices of Contemporary Literary Culture. We’ve created chapter abstracts for your perusal pleasure.
Below are details of my work to date as they appear on my curricula vitae. Some of them have links, some of them don’t. If you think my research will inform your own, please email me and I’ll send you electronic versions if I have them. I’m also proud to say that I work with the most excellent librarians and archivists in the world at MSVU. They’ve made some of my work publicly available through the MSVU Digital Commons.
BOOKS AND MONOGRAPHS
(2013). With Fuller, D. Reading Beyond the Book: The Social Practices of Contemporary Literary Culture. Routledge Research in Cultural and Media Studies New York, NY: Routledge.
(2011). Editor. Reading Communities from Salons to Cyberspace. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan
REFEREED JOURNAL ARTICLES/BOOK CHAPTERS
(2014). With Fuller, D. “And then we went to the brewery”: Reading as a Social Activity in a Digital Era. World Literature Today.
(2014). With Fuller, D. Reproducing “the Wow Factor”?: Negotiating the Values of Reading through One Book, One Community Events. In A. Poletti and P. Spedding (Eds.) Script & Print Special Issue: Revealing the Reader.
(2013, 2004). Measures/measuring. In R. Heath (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of Public Relations, Vols. 1 & 2. Thousand Oakes, CA: Sage Publications.
(2013, 2004). Symbolic Interactionism Theory. In R. Heath (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of Public Relations, Vols. 1 & 2. Thousand Oakes, CA: Sage Publications.
(2013, 2004). Revised edition with Wah, J. International Association of Business Communicators. In R. Heath (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of public relations, Vols. 1 & 2. Thousand Oakes, CA: Sage Publications.
(2012) With Gruzd, A. #1b1t: Investigating Reading Practices at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century. Mémoires du livre / Studies in Book Culture, 3(2).
(2012). With Fuller, D. Mixing it Up: Using Mixed Methods Research to Investigate Contemporary Cultures Of Reading. In A. Lang (Ed.), From Codex to hypertext: Reading at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century (pp. 234-251). Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.
(2011). Introduction to Reading Communities. In D. Rehberg Sedo (Ed.), Reading Communities from Salons to Cyberspace. Palgrave.
(2011). ‘I Used to Read Anything That Caught My Eye, but…’: Cultural Authority and Intermediaries in a Virtual Young Adult Book Club. In Reading Communities from Salons to Cyberspace. Palgrave.
(2011). With Fuller, D. & Squires, C. Marionettes and Puppeteers?: The Relationship Between Book Club Readers and Publishers. In Reading Communities From Salons To Cyberspace. Palgrave.
(2011). Twentieth-and Twenty-First Century Literary Communities. In C. V. E. Leonard Cassuto, Benjamin Reiss (Ed.), The Cambridge History of the American Novel (pp. 1154-1167). New York: Cambridge University Press.
(2011). With Fuller, D. Suspicious Minds: Richard & Judy’s Book Club and its Resistant Readers. In The Richard and Judy Book Club Reader. Ashgate.
(2010). Cultural Capital and Community in Contemporary City-wide Reading Programs. Memoires du Livre/Studies in Book Culture.
(2009, copyright 2010). With Fuller, D. & Thurlow, A. More than “Just a Little Library Program”: Discourses of Power in One Book, One Community Programming Committees. Logos, (20)1-4, pp 228-240.
(2009). With Richards, T. From Watchdogs to Guard Dogs: The Media and Official Sources. In Pasadeos, Y. (Ed.), Variety in Mass Communication Research. Athens, Greece: Athens Institute for Education and Research.
(2008). With Rodrigues, D. Experiencing Information Literacy in Second Life. Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, vol. 3, no. 1.
(2008). ‘Richard & Judy’s Book Club’ and ‘Canada Reads’: Readers, Books and Cultural Programming in a Digital Era. Information, Communication and Society 11.2: 188 – 206.
(2006). Reading and Study Groups. In C. Gerson & J. Michon (Eds.), History of the Book in Canada (Vol. III). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
(2006). With Fuller, D. A Reading Spectacle for the Nation: The CBC and “Canada Reads”. Journal of Canadian Studies, 40(1), 5-36.
(2005). Case Study: A Victoria Immigrant’s Reading–Introducing Margaret Mcmicking. In F. Black & Y. Lamonde (Eds.), History of the Book in Canada (Vol. II). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 470-481.
(2004). International Association of Business Communicators. In R. Heath (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of Public Relations. Thousand Oakes, CA: Sage Publications.
(2004). Measures/measuring. In R. Heath (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of public relations. Thousand Oakes, CA: Sage Publications.
(2004). Symbolic interactionism theory. In R. Heath (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of public relations. Thousand Oakes, CA: Sage Publications.
(2003). Book clubs and Reading Groups. In K. Christensen & D. Levinson (Eds.), Encyclopaedia of Community: From the Village to the Virtual World (pp. 97-99). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
(2003). Readers in Reading Groups: An On-Line Survey of Face-To-Face and Virtual Book Clubs. Convergence: The Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 9(1), 66-90.
NON-REFEREED JOURNAL ARTICLES/BOOK CHAPTERS
(2006). Taking Responsible Risks. ESC: English Studies in Canada 32(4), 21-24.
(2004). With Richards, T. Journalists and Official Sources. Media Magazine, 10(4), 18-19.
(2002). Predictions of Life after Oprah: A Glimpse at the Power of Book Club Readers. Publishing Research Quarterly, 18(3), 11-22.
(1998). Gathering in the Name of Literature. The New Reader, 3(1), 46-48.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Reading Lives, an app to connect readers in Halifax, Birmingham and Chicago
Canadian Reading Experience Database team member