Reading Deep: Reading Texts Closely
In the twentieth century, literary criticism took a turn from philology and historical approaches toward analyzing small, suggestive passages, using them as a microcosm that offered a fertile glimpse into the larger textual expanses of the text. In the Soviet Union, this effort came to be denominated as Russian formalism; in France, the explication de texte; in the Anglophone world, the New Criticism practice of “close reading.” In recent decades, this approach has fallen out of fashion, as politically motivated theoretical and critical modalities have become operative (cultural studies, post-colonialism, queer theory, etc.) While these recent efforts surely constitute an enlargement of our knowledge and an advancement of our critical protocols, they also risk the loss of the practice of close reading—a practice that comes as close as any to promoting the invaluable humanistic skill of critical thinking. This panel solicits papers from any author or period that promotes the practice of close reading—especially those which seek a rapprochement between explication and critical theory. Those attaching this practice to pedagogy are especially welcome.