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A dirty little secret : taste hierarchies and Richard and Judy’s book club

Lang, Anouk (2010) A dirty little secret : taste hierarchies and Richard and Judy’s book club. Participations, 7 (2). pp. 316-340. ISSN 1749-8716

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This paper locates Richard and Judy’s Book Club within hierarchies of taste in contemporary British society. Analysing the words of both media commentators and readers interviewed in focus groups, it identifies pervasive patterns of suspicion and general disparagement circulating in the discourse about the show’s book club, and explores how and why this stigma is expressed. Using methodologies from corpus linguistics to identify recurring patterns in language usage across a large number of media texts in three different national contexts, it considers the way the book club is discussed in the British press and how this differs from the kinds of discourses employed to talk about comparable nationwide reading events in the US and Canada. The findings include evidence of anxiety that the process of valuing and potentially canonising books is being done by a daytime television programme without the requisite symbolic capital to make decisions about literary matters.