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Theories of Reading

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations. Acknowledgements. Introduction: Anatomy of Reading. (Books; Bibliomania; Bodies). 1. A History of Reading. (From Reading Aloud to Reading Silently; From Monastic to Scholastic Reading; Reading in Solitude; From Intensive to Extensive Reading). 2. The Material Conditions of Reading. (Expressive Function of Print; Instability of the Textual Object; Histories of Textual Transmission; From Manuscript to Typographic Culture; from Print to Hypermedia Culture). 3. The Physiology of Consumption. (Side-effects of Reading; Reading-Fever; Reading Addiction; Modernity and the Assault on the Senses; Eye-Strain and Eye-Hunger; Film-Fever; Dazzling the Audience; Dizzy in Hyperspace; (Dis)Embodied in Cyberspace; Passive Consumers). 4. The Reader in Fiction. (Dangers of Reading; The Tearful Reader; The Frightened Reader; The Passionate Reader; Pathology of Reading; Reading Games; The Danger of a Future without Books; Multisensory Media). 5. The Role of Affect in Literary Criticism. (Reading with/out Pathos; Docere-Delectare-Movere; From Reader to Author to Text; Disinterested and Contemplative Reading; Close Reading; Reading for Sense rather than Sensation). 6. The Reader in Theory. (Un/Readability; A Priori Conditions of Reading; Controlling Readers? Responses; Reading Expectations; Conventions of Reading; Interpretive Communities; Failure of Reading; Misreading; The Reader as Writer; The Politics of Difference). 7. Sexual Politics of Reading. (The Resisting Reader; Black Women Readers; Empirical Audiences; Active Consumers; "Low-/Middle-/Highbrow" Reading; Embodied Reading; Reading as/like a Woman; The Feminisation of the Reader). Conclusion: Materialist Readings. Notes. References and Bibliography. Index

About the Author

Karin Littau, Lecturer in Comparative Literature and Film, University of Essex


"Littau has not only researched the archives of reader-response criticism exhaustively but thought long and hard about what each author represents in terms of the values associated with reading. Theories of Reading will thus prove an invaluable resource for all students new to the field of reader/reception theory, as well as for supervisors keen for their graduate students to reflect a little more critically on their own textual practice ... a rich, thorough and impeccably researched study that combines scholarship, historiography, and theoretical reflection in an impressive, and wholly engaging way." Modern Philology "It offers a useful survey of how reading since the advent of the printing press has been to do not only with intellectual, disembodied responses but also with embodied ones ... This book therefore marks an important step in challenging 'high' theory (and not only theories of reading) to reprioritise matter." Forum for Modern Language Studies "Littau?s book is genuinely original in its ambitious intellectual range, creating a convergence of academic streams which few in the fiefdom-ridden world of academic life have risked ... Theories of Reading deserves to become known to a wide?and appropriately self-conscious?audience of readers." Script & Print "Wide ranging and interdisciplinary in scope, Littau's work offers a unique summary of current critical understanding of reading and readership studies. It sensitively combines excellent summaries of cultural and literary theories of reading with robust considerations of the material nature of written texts, drawing our attention to the way technology has shaped reading sensibilities and thinking itself. This is an essential text for those involved in studying the interaction of readers with texts from both material and interpretive perspectives." David Finkelstein, Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh

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