Cover image for Social protest literature : an encyclopedia of works, characters, authors, and themes
Social protest literature : an encyclopedia of works, characters, authors, and themes
Netzley, Patricia D.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiv, 295 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN56.S65 N48 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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Impassioned social protest writers inspire readers to relive injustice, empathize with its victims, and take action. The more than 450 entries in this volume survey the most important protest works of our time as well as the classics of the past.

* Extensive cross-references direct readers to other works with similar themes

* A comprehensive bibliography suggests further reading

Author Notes

Patricia D. Netzley is a professional writer who teaches and lectures on writing.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Since ancient times, society's so-called rebels and activists have looked for ways to lend their voices in defense of freedom, equality, justice, and dignity, and against unjust conditions. One tool for initiating positive action is literature, and this volume surveys more than 100 writers and 130 works (primarily novels but also some poems and plays) that "encourage readers to empathize with those who suffer from a particular social problem." The author teaches and lectures on writing. Writers range from Alcaeus, an ancient Greek poet who wrote a short poem called "Poverty," to Toni Morrison, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and Kurt Vonnegut. Works include Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, and Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, all dealing with racism; Thomas Hood's The Song of the Shirt and Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, which probe labor issues; and Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, which demonstrate how protest is expressed in science fiction and fantasy. There are also entries for more than 150 characters (e.g., Celie, from Alice Walker's The Color Purple; Mrs. Jellyby, from Dickens' Bleak House; the Joad family, from Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath) and 32 themes, such as Apartheid, Mexican-American literature, and Slavery. Entries for works are generally the longest (sometimes several pages) and usually provide a summary of the literary work, with emphasis on the relevant social conditions or themes. Entries for authors and characters are usually less than a quarter page and emphasize their relationship to the social conditions being exposed. At the beginning of the volume, entries are listed alphabetically and also by category (authors, works, characters, and themes). Entries are extensively, although not always consistently, cross-referenced. There is an index as well as a bibliography following the main text. The black-and-white illustrations are mostly author portraits and stills from movies. All in all, Social Protest Literature is an interesting if somewhat specialized addition to the literature reference field because of its unique perspective. It could be a useful teaching tool as well as a starting point for research. Recommended for larger high-school, public, and undergraduate library collections.Reference Books in brief The following is a list of additional recent and recommended reference sources.

Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Concentrating on literary works with a social conscience, this book provides plot summaries, along with information on the lives of authors, major characters (e.g., the Joad family from John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, Prince Nekhludof from Leo Tolstoi's Resurrection, etc.), and themes from over 130 works. The articles are arranged alphabetically; character, theme, and biographical entries are relatively brief (100-250 words), while the plot summaries are a bit more detailed (800-2000 words). Though verse is mentioned, few poems besides Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" receive individual attention. Students looking up poetry in the index will find only a reference to the introduction, an article on the "Beat Movement," and a see-also note to look for specific poets and poems. If readers don't know the names of specific poets, they won't know where to turn. And why are there no entries for Amiri Baraka or Wendell Berry, and what about the feminist poets of the `60s and `70s? There are a few holes in the encyclopedic nature of this book, but it is readable and concise and it will be useful. Black-and-white photographs, reproductions, and a number of stills from film adaptations of the works are included.-Herman Sutter, Saint Agnes Academy, Houston, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Authors have long used fiction and poetry to protest against the societies in which they live. This encyclopedia focuses primarily on novels and poetry of the 19th and 20th centuries, though it has entries for a few earlier authors. Entries treat novels, authors, themes, and characters and are well-written, but because of their brevity they do not show the thematic wealth found in many of the works cited. This encyclopedia provides a good springboard for students searching for fictional works to illustrate a societal issue. A thorough list of references follows each entry, and cross-references point to other entries. A general index includes thorough cross-referencing, and there are as well an alphabetical list of entries and a list of entries by broad category. Appropriate for high school and lower undergraduate students. G. Wood; SUNY College at Cortland