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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.134) Chapter 8 Conclusion
Inside the Critics' Circle

Phillipa K. Chong

Princeton University Press

This chapter illustrates how the different types of uncertainty structure how fiction reviewers operate. Common to the preceding chapters is the finding that when confronted with different types of uncertainty, reviewers devise “personalized” responses. To be clear, while critics experience the dilemmas of reviewing and their responses to these as individuals problem-solving basis, the chapter argues that this personalized experience is itself a product of the larger social organization of reviewing: specifically, the high levels of epistemological, social, and institutional uncertainty faced by reviewers. In the absence of certainty on how to proceed, critics are left to devise personalized solutions to the challenges that arise throughout the reviewing process. In addition, the chapter considers what lessons book reviewing has for understanding the experience and enactment of power in other evaluative scenarios including other artistic fields, and non-artistic fields as well. Additionally, reflections are offered on what lessons can be taken from the multitude of stories shared by reviewers concerning how we think about the uncertain future of not only reviewing but what it means to be a reader.

Keywords:   uncertainty structure, book reviewers, fiction reviewers, book critics, personalized solutions, book reviewing, evaluative scenarios, uncertain future, readership

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