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Politics of Representation

Politics of Representation

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Published by yellowpaddy
theory
theory

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Published by: yellowpaddy on Jul 10, 2014
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http://www.brown.edu/Administration/Dean_of_the_College/downloads/armst_playpolread.pdf.Google is neither affiliated with the authors of this page nor responsible for its content. These search terms have been highlighted: politics representation novel !age " !lay and the !olitics of #eading: The $ocial %ses of &odernist 'orm!aul (. Armstrong )thaca*  +,: Cornell %!* - 01v 2 -3 pp.4 Contents !reface !art 5ne: Theory". The !olitics of #eading: +onConsensual #eciprocity and the +egotiation of Differences -. !lay* !ower* and Difference: The $ocial )mplications of )ser6s Aesthetic Theory 7. (eing 85ut of !lace9: dward $aid and the Contradictions of Cultural Differences !art Two: Criticism;. Art and the Construction of Community in 8The Deathof the <ion9 . =istorici>ing Conrad: Temporal 'orm and the !olitics of #eading?. &isogyny and the thics of #eading: The !roblem of Conrad6s Chance3. <iberalism and the !olitics of 'orm: The Ambiguous +arrative @oice in =owards nd. #eading )ndia: The Double Turns of 'orster6s !ragmatism B. ames oyce and the !olitics of #eading: !ower* (elief* and ustice in %lysses!edagogical !ostscript: <iberal ducation* the nglish &aor* and !luralistic <iteracy EorFs Cited'rom the 8!reface9 #eading is an important but neglected site of the  political worF done by literature. To some sociallyminded critics of literature* the idea that reading could be a political activity is no doubt implausible and contradictory. After all* reading might seem a solitary e1perience* private to the individual* and an orientation toward political matters in criticism would seem almost by definition to imply a turning away from a focus on consciousness and subectivity. These are overly simplistic assumptions* however* that ignore some important social and  political worF that can only or bestH happen in the activity of reading* which
 
is a social and historical e1perience through and through. To begin with* reading has a social* political dimension because we maFe sense of te1ts by forming hypotheses about meaning that emerge from the assumptions and conventions we bring from our other e1periences with literature and life. Those presuppositions* e1pectations* and habits of understanding are defining aspects of our e1istence as social beings. #eading is a social e1perience in which we find our beliefs and conventions engaged and challenged by other ways of seeing* udging* and behaving. #eading conseIuently has a political dimension inasmuch as politics has to do with the e1ercise of power and the negotiation of differences. #eading is a  parado1ical e1perience in which we grant a te1t power over ourselves in various ways by lending it our powers. This is especially evident* for e1ample* in the ways !age - narrators may seeF to direct our attention* persuade us to see things in a  particular manner* and otherwise manipulate our thinFingJsomething they cannot do without our active involvement and cooperation* but with the result that we subect ourselves to another6s intentions* desires* and will* andmay find ourselves resisting or reecting a te1t6s e1plicit directions or implicit maneuvers. The results of such engagements can be as various as there are te1ts and readers* but the point is that these aspects of reading are all social* political* and historical e1periences. These e1periences can shape and change our character as social* political agents. They can have conseIuences for the habits* assumptions* and aims that we bring to other social engagements in our worlds. They can raise Iuestions about such  political matters as our sense of ustice and responsibility. They can challenge and change our practices of relating to others* including others with conventions and beliefs different from our own. )ndeed* for many  people* reading is the social sphere where we are most engaged with  perspectives and desires that are alien* foreign* unfamiliarJand it is thereforean e1perience where learning about the challenges* difficulties* and opportunities of negotiating differences is most liFely to occur. To thinF about reading in these ways has conseIuences for how we view the worF of literary criticism. )t is customary to thinF that the ob of social and political criticism is to e1plicate the representational content of a te1tJto asF what it says about social issues or political Iuestions. )f reading itself is a site of important social and political activity* then the how of that e1perience is as important as the what of a te1t6s mimetic commentary* and maybe more so. AsFing Iuestions about how formal te1tual strategies seeF to engage a
 
reader6s assumptions and conventions is a specifically literary way to do the worF of social* political criticism. This Find of close attention to the  pressures and designs of the reading e1perience is something that we literarycritics are or should beH particularly sFilled at. )t gives us something special to contribute to the understanding of social and political matters which is less liFely to be provided by sociologists* political scientists* and historians. ven when social scientists are good interpreters* they are typically clumsy in discussing the formal Iualities of te1ts when they are not blind to them altogetherH. To asF about the political implications of the activity of reading* with special concern for how the forms of te1ts engage and challenge a reader6s habits* conventions* and e1pectations* is to conduct social criticism from a position of genuine professional e1pertiseand to avoid falling into the trap of writing literary criticism that sounds liFe naive social science.This booF is an attempt to e1plicate some of the political implications of the act of reading and to propose a particular approach to reading that ) thinF has important social uses in light of various challenges facing the contemporary world. #eading can be a parado1ically reciprocal  but nonconsensual activity* in the sense that it reIuires mutual recognition the te1t depends on the reader6s powers to bring its meanings into e1istenceH but does not have to culminate in agreement indeed* the disunctive tension between the worlds of the te1t and the reader is a typical*important value of the e1perience of readingH. +onconsensual reciprocity of the sort that reading can model and teach is an important practical and theoretical need in politics today. ) return repeatedly in the chapters that follow to the debate between =abermas and <yotard about consensus and legitimation in order to suggest an alternative to the notion that interactions that are 8rational9 or otherwise socially productive and useful must have agreement !age 7 as their goal. #eading as an e1ercise in nonconsensual reciprocity can  provide a valuable model for a practice of democratic interaction that is not constrained by a conception of community as agreement but that is aware of and avoids the dangers of violence* irrationality* and anarchy. #eading in this way is* ) argue* a particular Find of play. This argument draws on the description of play by =ansGeorg Gadamer and Eolfgang )ser as a  potentially openended toandfro activity. )nstrumental games that aim to establish a winner and a loser set play in motion in order to close it off by the establishment of a hierarchy of meaning and value. #eading for nonconsensual reciprocity has more in common with the Find of play that )ser

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