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In Place of Reading: Social Location and the Literary Text

ENGL 380
Spring 2019 not offered
Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory, Writing

To read, Michel de Certeau wrote, is to travel. True enough, but de Certeau is using a metaphor, and traveling has appeared in place of reading. Why is it so hard to keep reading in view? Why are so many readers so eager to put something else in its place? This course considers the question by suggesting that, if to read is to travel, it is also to remain precisely where we are, reading. Social location shapes the specific qualities of our attention to literary objects. We will examine key texts that have invited--or coerced--readers into an intensive style of reading in modern times, and we will ask questions about the social worlds represented within the texts and implied outside them. Why have so many of these texts depicted--or tried to enact--the social transformation of readers, that is, to move them somewhere else? What makes some readings portable and roots others profoundly to their places of origin? Who has time and resources to read, and to read closely? Is close reading itself a noxious byproduct of modernity's decadence? Or are there ways of getting close to texts that promise more than social privilege? What are the locations of reading, and how are they part of readers' actualizations of the texts they read? Our texts will range from early modern fiction to contemporary novels, from painting to film, and will be accompanied by major writings on the ethics and theory of reading.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA ENGL
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None

Last Updated on JUN-19-2024
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