Author : Karin Littau
Publisher : Polity
Release : 2006-12-04
Category : Language Arts & Disciplines
ISBN : 9780745616599
Book Theories of Reading Description/Summary:
Why do literary theorists see reading as an act of dispassionatetextual analysis and meaning production, when historical evidenceshows that readers have often read excessively, obsessively, andfor sensory stimulation? Posing these and other questions, this isthe first major work to bring insights from book history to bear onliterary history and theory. In so doing, the book charts acompelling and innovative history of theories of reading. While literary theorists have greatly contributed to ourunderstanding of the text-reader relation, they have rarely takeninto account that the relation between a book and a reader is alsoa relation between two bodies: one made of paper and ink, the otherflesh and blood. This is why, Karin Littau argues, we need to lookbeyond the words on the page, and pay attention to the technicalinnovations in the physical format of the book. Only then is itpossible to understand more fully how media technology has changedour experience of reading, and why media history presents achallenge to our conceptions of what reading is. Each chapter places the reader in specific disciplinary andhistorical contexts: literature, criticism, philosophy, culturalhistory, bibliography, film, new media. Overall, the historyrecounted in this book points to a split between modern literarystudy which regards reading as a reducibly mental activity, and atradition reaching back to antiquity which assumed that reading wasnot only about sense-making but also about sensation. Theories of Reading: Books, Bodies and Bibliomania will beessential reading for all students and scholars of literary theoryand history as well as of great interest to students of the historyof the book and new media.