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Table of contents (14 chapters)
About this book
The Work of Reading: Literary Criticism in the 21st Century is a sustained critical examination of the developments in the field of literary studies from the early 2000s onwards within the context of the systematic problems in the humanities. This volume analyzes the origins of the current methods—including New Historicism, empiricism, New Formalism, postcritique, and others—and posits alternatives to the present state of literary studies. At a time when many aspects of current methods show a desire to adopt values from other disciplines to solve internal crises, this volume advocates a renewed focus on questions of form by means of the praxis of aesthetic study, close reading, and other modes of engaging directly with literary texts.
- literary studies
- crisis in the humanities
- New Historicism
- New Formalism
“Why read? Why describe what we’ve read? What counts as a good description, and for whom and what can we do with a work we’ve described? Each generation of readers—and of academics in literary studies, as long as there is such a thing—must ask these questions over again: this thoughtful, trustworthy and well-assembled volume gives a generation’s answers. Poems display art, or artfulness; close reading has a history, and involves—rather than negating—history. Higher education isn’t neutral: it can sustain, or discourage, reading for form—and for justice. Reading means seeking surprise—and noticing motives. Critique may emerge as “radical defiance,” unbowed by premature declarations of its death. Critics can work by example, not just by manifesto; we may persuade (as William Empson did) by our own style. We ought to know (like Frank Kermode; unlike Polonius) what we don’t know. And we can find ways forward not just in philosophy but in the literary works we purport to love—from Milton’s syntax to Lydia Millet’s ellipsis. This collection knows it’s not the first to raise these queries—indeed, its contributors ably and repeatedly respond to Rita Felski and to others who ask whether we can live by critique alone (N-O) or whether we’re done with it (also nope), whether we already know what we mean by form (we will keep trying). And that knowledge—alongside the ample skills of its many contributors, from multiple continents and generations—makes it perhaps the best high-level introduction to how and why we read now.” (Stephanie Burt, Professor of English, Harvard University, USA)“Here is a spirited new defense of literature, close reading, and critique in the era of the neoliberal university. This stimulating new volley in the ‘method wars’ brings together a range of sharp thinkers, both renowned and fresh to the field, spanning generations.” (Caroline Levine, David and Kathleen Ryan Professor of Humanities, Cornell University, USA)
“In the wake of historicism, post-critique and surface reading, how should literary studies conceive itself? In The Work of Reading, lively essays by British and American scholars, junior and senior, provide answers, including a spirited defense of critique itself, but primarily encouraging a broader vision of the possibilities of close reading as a fundamental humanist activity.” (Jonathan Culler, Class of 1916 Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Cornell University, USA, and author of Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction (2nd edition, 2011))
Editors and Affiliations
University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
Mir Ali Hosseini
University of York, York, UK
About the editors
Anirudh Sridhar received a DPhil in English, on the topic of mathematics and poetry, from the University of Oxford, UK.
Mir Ali Hosseini is a PhD candidate in British and North American Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Freiburg, Germany, and a scholar of the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes.Derek Attridge is Emeritus Professor in the Department of English at the University of York, UK, and is the author of books on literary theory, poetry and poetics, and Irish and South African literature. He has taught in the UK, the USA, France, and Italy, and received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Leverhulme Research Professorship.
Book Title: The Work of Reading
Book Subtitle: Literary Criticism in the 21st Century
Editors: Anirudh Sridhar, Mir Ali Hosseini, Derek Attridge
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham
eBook Packages: Literature, Cultural and Media Studies, Literature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)
Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021
Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-71138-2Published: 18 May 2021
Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-71141-2Published: 19 May 2022
eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-71139-9Published: 17 May 2021
Edition Number: 1
Number of Pages: XIX, 303
Number of Illustrations: 1 b/w illustrations
Topics: Literary Theory, Literature and Technology, Digital Humanities, Close Readings in Film and TV