Diffractive Reading: New Materialism, Theory, Critique (New Critical Humanities) (Hardcover)
Putting the New Materialist figure of diffraction to use in a set of readings - in which cultural texts are materially read against their contents and their themes, against their readers or against other texts - this volume proposes a critical intervention into the practice of reading itself. In this book, reading and reading methodology are probed for their materiality and re-considered as being inevitably suspended between, or diffracted with, both matter and discourse. The history of literary and cultural reading, including poststructuralism and critical theory, is revisited in a new light and opened-up for a future in which the world and reading are no longer regarded as conveniently separate spheres, but recognized as deeply entangled and intertwined. Diffractive Reading ultimately represents a new reading of reading itself: firstly by critiquing the distanced perspective of critical paradigms such as translation and intertextuality, in which texts encountered, processed or otherwise subdued; secondly, showing how all literary and cultural readings represent different 'agential cuts' in the world-text-reader constellation, which is always both discursive and material; and thirdly, the volume materializes, dynamizes and politicizes the activity of reading by drawing attention to reading's intervention in, and (co)creation of, the world in which we live.
Kai Merten is professor of British literature at the University of Erfurt. His main research and teaching interests are British literature and culture from various medial, material and global perspectives. He is the founder of the Erfurt Network on New Materialism (ENNM) and has initiated cooperations in the field of New Materialist methodologies with similar research groups in Erfurt (Max-Weber-Kolleg), Weimar, Utrecht, Berlin, Aarhus, Odense, Kiel and Warsaw.