Surface and Depth: How We Read Now - proposed panel for Marxist Literary Group MLA panel 2011

full name / name of organization: 
jason potts /marxist literary group
contact email:

Although Stephen Best and Sharon Marcus make clear in "Surface Reading: An Introduction" that the essays appearing in the Fall 2009 special issue of Representations amount to "neither a polemic against nor a postmortem of symptomatic reading" they also clearly mean to "distance" surface reading from interpretive practices dedicated to uncovering what a text "represses(3). In particular, Best and Marcus mean to distinguish surface reading from the mode of reading championed by Fredric Jameson in The Political Unconscious. Where Jameson "wrest[s] meaning from a resisting text or insert[s] it into a lifeless one," Best and Marcus argue, for a new generation of readers, "to see more clearly does not require that we plumb hidden depths and that producing accurate accounts of surfaces is not antithetical to critique."

Abstracts of 250 words that explore any issue - symptomatic reading; generational shifts, the rhetoric of surface and depth; distance; transparency - that the special issue of Representations raise for Marxist literary critique are invited. Please send abstracts to Jason Potts ( by February 7. Note that if the proposal is accepted, all panelists must be members of both the MLG and the MLA by February 12.

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