[UPDATE] Forms of Reading, Forms of Life (SAMLA Nov. 8-10, 2013)

full name / name of organization: 
Benjamin Mangrum / University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill AND Benjamin Sammons / University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
contact email: 

Observing a national decline in literary reading, in 2006 the National Endowment for the Arts instituted the Big Read Program to revivify what it deemed an indispensable, but endangered, civic activity. In 2009, the NEA celebrated new research indicating that, for the first time in twenty-five years, literary reading in the US was on the rise. Yet what grounds are there for such consternation or celebration? Indeed, why a governmental investment in this cultural practice? And, in a digital era, as new forms of textual production and consumption proliferate, why the emphasis on traditionally defined literary reading?
Taking seriously the NEA's claim that literary reading has "demonstrable social, economic, cultural, and civic implications," this panel asks what distinctive forms of life such reading might nourish. We are particularly interested in considering questions such as the following: How do literary texts exert pressure on readers' behavior? How do authors and poets imagine the act of interpretation itself in their creative work? Does digital media entail substantively different ethics of reading? How might the study of literature participate in alleviating social problems, such as poverty, illiteracy, debt, global war, or a diminishing food supply? We invite papers exploring these and related issues in the phenomenology and ethics of reading. Papers may address imaginative and/or theoretical texts from any historical period, national provenance, or (non-)print idiom. All critical orientations are welcome.
SAMLA 2013 (Nov. 8-10) will be held at the Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel & Conference Center.
By June 15, 2013, please submit abstracts of no more than 350 words to Benjamin Sammons, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, at bsammons@email.unc.edu and Benjamin Mangrum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, at bmangrum@email.unc.edu.