Sunday, 09 January
762. So Close and Yet So Far: Close Reading and Sociology
12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Diamond Salon 6, J. W. Marriott
A special session
Presiding: Evan Kindley, Princeton Univ.
Speakers: James F. English, Univ. of Pennsylvania; Frances Ferguson, Johns Hopkins Univ., MD; Oren Izenberg, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago; Alan Liu, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; Heather K. Love, Univ. of Pennsylvania; Mark James McGurl, Univ. of California, Los Angeles
Despite the many shifts that have taken place in literary studies in recent decades, the discipline has stayed largely committed to the methodological common denominator of close reading. This bedrock commitment to close reading strongly marks literary studies as an academic discipline, sometimes to the point of preventing dialogue with those in adjacent disciplines not similarly devoted to microanalysis. Do we need to substitute distant for close reading, as Franco Moretti suggests, or is there a way to deploy the techniques of close analysis in which most literary scholars have been trained in the service of a broader sociological theory of literature? Might there be a third way?