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Theory and Practice of Sociocriticism

1988
Author:

Edmond Cros
Translated by Jerome Schwartz
Foreword by Jurgen Link and Ursula Link-Heer

Theory and Practice of Sociocriticism

A leading French Hispanicist brings Spanish and Mexican texts into the current literary debates and shows that all discourse is irreducibly social in nature.

A leading French Hispanicist brings Spanish and Mexican texts into the current literary debates and shows that all discourse is irreducibly social in nature.

Edmond Cros is a leading French Hispanicist whose work is unique in Continental theory because it brings Spanish and Mexican texts into current literary debates, which have so far centered mainly on the French and German traditions. Equally distinctive is the nature of his work, which Cros terms sociocriticism. Unlike most sociological approaches to literature, which leave the structure of texts untouched, sociocriticism aims to prove that the encounter with “ideological traces,” and with antagonistic tensions between social classes, is central to any reading of texts. Cros’s method distinguishes between the “semiotic and “ideological” elements within a text, and involves the patient, exacting reconstruction of the concrete text from these elements, a process that enables the sociocritic to interpret its fault lines, its internal contradictions - in the end , its irreducibly social nature.

As its title suggests, Theory and Practice of Sociocriticism is structured in two parts. Its opening chapters analyze sociological theories of discourse, including those of Foucault, Bakhtin, and Goldman; in the second part, Cros applies theory to practice in readings of specific works: the film Scarface, contemporary Mexican poetry and prose (Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes), and the picaresque novel of the Spanish Golden Age. In their foreword, Jurgen Link and Ursula Link-Heer differentiate sociocriticism from other social approaches to literature and show how Cros’s method works in specific textual readings. They emphasize his resistance to the reductive modes and “misreadings” that dominate much of contemporary theory.

Edmond Cros is a professor of literary theory and Hispanic studies at the Universite Paul Valery in Montpellier, France, and Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Jurgen Link teaches at the Ruhr-Universitat Bochum and Ursula Link-Heer at the Universitat Siegen, both in West Germany.

Theory and Practice of Sociocriticism

Edmond Cros currently works at the Universite Paul Valery in France. Jerome Schwartz is Professor of French, Emeritus, at the University of Pittsburgh. Jürgen Link is professor emeritus of German at the University of Dortmund, Germany. Ursula Link-Heer is a professor at Bergische University, Germany.

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