The Anthropology of Literature in France

Birth and Becoming of a New Field of Studies

in Anthropological Journal of European Cultures
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In this article we present the ongoing theoretical discussions concerning the relations between anthropology and literature in France. We recall the historical relationship of a part of French anthropology and the world of literature. We then try to show how the anthropology of literature began by using the model of the anthropology of art, mainly concentrating on literary works as individual creations specific to the style or the cosmology of a given writer. We explore a new perspective on the analysis of the social and symbolic meanings of literary worlds, putting the emphasis on what is called ‘ethnocriticism’ in France. In order to understand better the influence of literature and literary motives on contemporary cultural practices, and to grasp the relation of literary works with the outside world and with everyday life, we propose to build up a comparative approach of literary works and rituals. Through different novels or other literary works, we address possible developments of contemporary anthropologies of literature in France.