Literary Studies and the Pursuits of Reading

Literary Studies and the Pursuits of Reading

Edited by Eric Downing, Jonathan M. Hess, Richard V. Benson


Camden House



Focuses critical attention once again on the nature and process of reading, taking into account both current theory and historical investigations.
Thirty years ago, when theory emerged as integral to literary studies, investigations into the nature of reading dominated academic criticism. Since then, as cultural studies and historical approaches have gained ascendancy, critical focus on reading has waned. This collection of new essays by leading scholars of German and comparative literature, inspired by the work of the long-time and influential scholar of reading Clayton Koelb, puts the study of reading back at center stage, considering current theory on reading, emotion, and affect alongside historical investigations into cultural practices of reading as they have changed over time. Topics addressed include ancient practices of magic reading; Christian conversionary reading; the emergence of silent reading in the Middle Ages; Renaissance ekphrastic reading; homeopathy, reading and Romanticism; and German-Jewish reading cultures in the nineteenth century. The volume will be of interest to scholars and students of literary criticism, German Studies, comparative literature, and European history.

Contributors: Richard V. Benson, Stanley Corngold, Eric Downing, Darryl Gless, Ruth V. Gross, Jonathan Hess, Janice Hewlett Koelb, Alice Kuzniar, Ann Marie Rasmussen, Jeffrey L. Sammons, Gary Shapiro, Kathryn Starkey, Christopher Wild.

Eric Downing is Hanes Distinguished Term Professor of German, English, and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Jonathan M. Hess is Professor of German and Moses M. and Hannah L. Malkin Distinguished Term Professor of Jewish History and Culture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Richard V. Benson is Visiting Assistant Professor of German at Valparaiso University.


September 2012
17 black and white illustrations
306 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571134318
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, LIT020000
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Table of Contents

Apertio Libri: Codex and Conversion - Christopher Wild
The Question of Reading and the Medieval Book: Reception and Manuscript Variation of Thomasin's Welscher Gast - Kathryn Starkey
Reading in Nuremberg's Fifteenth-Century Carnival Plays - Ann Marie Rasmussen
Shakespeare, Biblical Interpretation, and the Elusiveness of Meaning - Darryl J. Gless
Reading and the Writing of German-Jewish History - Jonathan M. Hess
Similia Similibus Curentur: Homeopathy and Its Magic Wand of Analogy - Alice A. Kuzniar
Reading and Rhetorical Generation: The Example of Blake's Thel - Janice Hewlett Koelb
Sender Glatteis Reads Lessing and Comes to a Sad End: Some Thoughts on Karl Emil Franzos's Der Pojaz and the Problem of Jewish Reading - Jeffery L. Sammons
Magic Reading - Eric Downing
"Anything One Wants": Kafka and Women, Again - Ruth V. Gross
Reading on the Edge of Oblivion: Virgil and Virgule in Coetzee's Age of Iron - Gary Shapiro
Reading Experience in Faust - Stanley Corngold
Works Cited
Notes on the Contributors


(A) collection of essays which . . . contains several pieces that deserve attention from anyone interested in the history of reading. JOURNAL OF EUROPEAN STUDIES (Ritchie Robertson)

Each contributor takes a distinctive approach to the concept of reading . . . . The essays are rigorous, lively, and thought provoking; they do what good criticism should do -- drive their audience to read (or reread) the texts examined in light of these new interpretations. Recommended (for) all libraries supporting literary studies for upper-level undergraduates and above. CHOICE

Most of the essays are original and thorough, and certainly deserve close attention. Among them, Christopher Wild's close reading of literary and autobiographical conversion episodes and their relation to the reading of codices as well as Kathryn Starkey's explorations of medieval manuscript reading stand out. MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW

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