I’m thrilled to have a short essay included in a spanking new collection that is dedicated to the topic of what it means to interpret literary texts in the twenty-first century. The essays, which are part of a Colloquy hosted by Stanford’s digital salon Arcade, and curated by the crack team of Julie Orlemanski and Dalglish Chew, are gathered together under the title, “We, Reading, Now.” Arcade is a digital salon especially for “readers and writers interested in literature, the humanities, and the world.”
Hey, wait! That’s you, isn’t it? It is! Don’t pretend that it’s not! You really should waddle-hop over here and check it out.
This particular group of essays grew out of a seminar on “post-critical interpretation” organized by Rita Felski. This seminar gathered together a group of amazing young scholars (plus me; I believe I was the only participant who was born before 1980. Sigh.) all of whom were (and are) interested in the question of what literary interpretation is, and what it does, in the twenty-first century. Don’t tune out yet, non-academic readers, because I think that any of you who majored in literature (even, you know, Italian literature) will be interested in these fantastic essays. I’m talking about you, Sarah Jane, Liz, Leah, Natalie, Claire, Henry (does Henry read this, Claire?) and, um, others.
Also, Sarah Jane, Liz (and Henry, if you read this), my essay is essentially a reminiscence of what it was like (in my experience) to study English at Cambridge in the olden days of the early nineties, so I hope it will be of particular interest to you. The other essays’ concerns range from the implosion of the Duke English Department in the late nineties, to a call for a “baseline empiricism” in African Americanist literary criticism, to a genealogy of “close reading” that links the practice to hermeneutics.
Please do take a look and even participate, if you are so moved – it’s meant to be a collaborative forum.
And do let me know what you think!
Much love &c.
P.S. Oh, and please do share the links with anyone who might be interested — I really want these essays to be read! Many thanks!
* This post’s title is inspired by KJ Rabbit, who pointed out that “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” which I had to lecture on a couple of weeks back, was the universe’s gift to me during what was, otherwise, a challenging week. But actually, the universe’s gift to me was KJ’s text to me minutes before my lecture observing that “Keats’s poem is so awesome that he gets away w one of poetry’s all time worst lines ‘more happy happy love.’” This cheered me right up, so much so that I even quoted KJ in lecture, and she got a BIG laugh.