"Subterranean Gratification: Sites of Reading and Scenes of Mobility after the Picaro"
Reading will set you free! This is the slogan-maybe the one great transhistorical slogan-of a literate world, in which the written text in its myriad forms promises emancipation from drudgery, ignorance, and want. Perhaps because reading has pledged so much, the people who think most about it have tended to avoid asking what it might actually be. In particular, the most robust and engaging theories of close and critical reading have tended to ignore the vast social inequalities upon which cultures of reading have been founded. But if the image of reading as an emancipatory practice is itself based on practices that serve primarily as means of social domination, then those of us who care about attentive styles of interpretation have some explaining to do. This lecture opens the question by considering that image of reading as it materializes in the wake of the literary-historical figure of the picaro: the marginal character (pauper, beggar, servant, thief, swindler) who finds its wavering way into the core of the world narrative tradition of self-development. Its transformations provide the occasion for a reading of reading in modern times: of the good reading lauded by the literate tradition, and the bad reading (and bad readers) upon which it too often depends.
Location: Russell House All Rooms Sponsor: Center for the Humanities URL: Contact: Erinn Savage, firstname.lastname@example.org