We, Reading, Now

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Reading for the Moment
By Invitation
By
Eric Eisner
Essay
What if our accounts of the way we read “now,” as well as our narratives of the discipline’s history, were to set out not from a catalog of eras or turns, but instead from more particularized, more fluid temporalities?
I'm Just Normal
By
Jean-Thomas Tremblay
Essay

I’m Just Normal[1]

Brooke, played by Greta Gerwig, is the eccentric half of a double act in Noah Baumbach’s 2015 national-millennial fable, Mistress America. More than her physical comedy, Brooke’s rhetorical acrobatics dazzle. The thirty-something gives profuse accounts of herself: “I know I’m...

From Suspicion to Solidarity?
By
Stephen Squibb
Essay
What comes after suspicion? My answer is solidarity—or allied reading. I prefer this to ‘surface reading,’ ‘generous reading,’ or the ‘hermeneutics of trust’ which Ricoeur originally intended to discipline with suspicion, chiefly because solidarity is strategic, rather than simply charitable, virtuous, or advisable (though it may be these as well).
Critique, Neo-Kantianism, and Literary Study
By Invitation
By
Ross Knecht
Essay

Bruno Latour’s 2004 essay “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam?” positions itself as a challenge to long-standing orthodoxy in the academic humanities.Bruno Latour, “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern,” Critical Inquiry 30 (2004): 225-248. According to...

Risking Complicity
By
Mitchum Huehls
Essay
It’s not surprising that today’s authors and readers have changing notions of what it means to mean.
We Have Never Been Critical
By
Dalglish Chew
Essay
Via a reading of two fictional dialogues by Bruno Latour, I suggest how generational structures of transmission inflect our attachments to critique, and thus also our understanding of its alternatives.
Critique: The History of a Premise
By
Patrick Fessenbecker
Essay
Recently, much has been made of the fact that “critique,” as practiced in literary criticism, is an attitude. It is “paranoid,” in contrast with alternate approaches that seem “naive, pious, or complaisant”; or it is “suspicious,” looking “past the surface in order to root out what is underneath it." But critique is also an argument, and I want to think about the nature of that argument.
Post-critical Reading and the New Hegelianism
By
Matthew Flaherty
Essay
One doesn’t need a metaphysics of history to sense when a form of life with its attendant rituals, pieties, and practices has grown old. Theory’s reign in literature departments has long been past the point when its claims arrived with salutary shock in the profession.
In this Dawn to be Alive: Versions of the “Postcritical,” 1999, 2015
By
Nathan K. Hensley
Essay
It seems to me that any genealogy of the postcritical undertaken in 2015 should map not just the personal experiences and dispositional idiosyncrasies that have led us to our current procedures as individual readers and thinkers. It should also plot those individual stories within a larger institutional narrative of critical activity in the American academy.
On Not (Yet) Getting It
By
Sarah Tindal Kareem
Essay
I don’t think that in the English language we possess a good vocabulary for talking about the pleasures of readerly discomfort and difficulty: the feeling that one part of ourselves leaps ahead while another part lags behind.
Who Cares?
By
Anahid Nersessian
Essay

Near the beginning of Sheila Heti’s 2012 novel, How Should a Person Be?, the narrator—coyly, “Sheila”—recalls a jilted ex-lover’s composition of “an outline for a play about [her] life—how it would unfold, decade by decade.” As her ex rises “in prestige and power,” play-Sheila is rudderless, “always...

Race, Thick and Thin
By
Kinohi Nishikawa
Essay
There has been a noticeable doubling down on critique in African American literary studies. But postcritique is thriving in less-recognized work in the field: namely, scholarship that is oriented around empirical analysis of textual objects and that is animated by theoretical and practical reflection on archival research.
Hermeneutic Construction
By
Julie Orlemanski
Essay
Why do we do what we do? Why do we labor to read, and teach students to read, slowly, attentively, philologically, and speculatively? What are literary studies’ practical epistemologies? My hypothesis is that answers to questions like these are sedimented in disciplinary activity.
Double Agency: Knowledge | Performativity
By
Rebekah Sheldon
Essay
“What does knowledge do?” exposes our impoverished vocabulary for discussing how what appears political inside of a particular interpretation generates political change in the broader world. Sedgwick’s question gives us license to ask: What if we took these expressions literally? What if discourse is a thing whose unfoldings we can modulate both through its meanings and through its materiality? Answering these questions requires a more strenuous examination of what we mean by the material, of how meaning matters. This is my post-critical turn.

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