Redlining Culture: A Data History of Racial Inequality and Postwar Fiction


Product Details

Columbia University Press
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.1 X 0.7 inches | 0.75 pounds

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About the Author

Richard Jean So is assistant professor of English and cultural analytics at McGill University. He is the author of Transpacific Community: America, China, and the Rise and Fall of a Cultural Network (Columbia, 2016).


So conducts groundbreaking data analysis of modern and contemporary American literary production, making visible, at scale, the denial of opportunity, attention, and distinction to writers of color. An ambitious work in cultural analytics, Redlining Culture will be a model for future work in the field.--Kinohi Nishikawa, author of Street Players: Black Pulp Fiction and the Making of a Literary Underground
With clarity and conviction, Richard Jean So makes the case for why quantitative methods matter for the study of literary culture. But more than that, he shows what these methods can do: reveal patterns of inequality, identify examples of resistance, and enrich our understanding of the structural forces that shape what we read and why.--Lauren Klein, coeditor of Debates in the Digital Humanities
Redlining Culture is a book of landmark significance, both for digital humanities and for literary studies at large. So demonstrates that scholars have underestimated the persistence of inequality in postwar fiction. In supporting that thesis, he also shows that quantitative models can help us understand every stage in the production of literary value--from authorial and editorial decisions, to book reviews, to the distribution of prizes and academic consecration. At once ambitious and startlingly clear, the book provides a blueprint for a new kind of literary history.--Ted Underwood, author of Distant Horizons: Digital Evidence and Literary Change
It's easy to say that American publishing has taken steps to reduce racial inequality, indicated by the expanding list of published novels by nonwhite authors since World War II. So refutes that statement with this data-driven account that brings literary and historical methods together. A breakthrough in book history, this pathbreaking study about publishing, authorship, race, and recognition is essential reading.--Maryemma Graham, founding director of the Project on the History of Black Writing, University of Kansas
In this gift of a book, So challenges racial hegemony and discrimination in the publishing industry -- and, by extension, in the country at large . . . Recognizing the significance of So's work means recognizing the impact of words, language, and storytelling on who we have been as a country, who we are as a country, and who we could be as a country if we valued, amplified, and embraced the stories of those from historically marginalized groups -- an embrace that, ultimately, would shape a world built upon celebrating not only their stories and voices, but their lives.--Emanuela Kucik "Los Angeles Review Books "
Redlining Culture joins a select group of texts in the humanities that employ scientific tools and computational methods in order to rigorously demonstrate the existence and persistence of institutional injustices . . . [This book] levels an incisive, evidence-based criticism against the American publishing industry, as well as the academic discipline of literary and cultural studies.--Amir Jaima "Publishing Research Quarterly "