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Inside the Critics' CircleBook Reviewing in Uncertain Times$
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Phillipa K. Chong

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691167466

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691167466.001.0001

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(p.1) Chapter 1 Introduction
Inside the Critics' Circle

Phillipa K. Chong

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter presents a study of book reviewing from the perspective of the reviewers. It examines two major dimensions of this research—the study of critics and evaluation as a response to quality uncertainty. The chapter explores the ways in which critics impact book culture as producers of literary value. It then asserts that uncertainty has a central place in the study of evaluation and discusses three different kinds of uncertainty. The first contextual dimension of uncertainty is epistemological. Next, social uncertainty refers to critics' inability to predict how relevant others will respond or react to their evaluations. Institutional uncertainty, another distinct category of uncertainty, concerns the degree of clarity and consensus regarding rules and procedures for behavior and the broader significance or meaning of the work involved in reviewing. To conclude, the chapter provides the sources and methodology of this research, as well as a brief outline of what it entails.

Keywords:   book reviewers, book culture, critics, quality uncertainty, literary value, book reviewing, epistemic uncertainty, social uncertainty, institutional uncertainty

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