Instructor: Weissman
T 9:30-12:20PM

In this seminar we will examine how some scholars in the late 20th century to the present have theorized the reader and acts of reading, with a primary but not exclusive focus on the reading of literary narrative. We will begin with the theory and practice of “close reading” and consider such antagonists as “distant reading” and “surface reading.” From there we will move toward more recent theorizations of reading through a series of books. These are likely to include Paula L. Moya’s The Social Imperative: Race, Close Reading, and Contemporary Literary Criticism (2015), which models reading that attends to how literature reflects, promotes, and contests sociocultural ideas about race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality; Jenae Cohn’s Skim, Dive, Surface: Teaching Digital Reading (2021), which draws on cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and composition studies to understand how digital reading may be better understood and taught; Lisa Zunshine’s The Secret Life of Literature (2022), which addresses how “mindreading,” the human capacity to attribute mental states to others, shapes how and why literature is written and read; and James Phelan’s Narrative Medicine: A Rhetorical Rx (2023), which models a narrative theory of “rhetorical reading” and applies it to medical narratives, including short fiction, nonfictional accounts, and graphic memoirs. Our study of theories of reading will alter your own reading practices as well as how you write on what you read.