Graduate Summer 2024: Joseph Glinbizzi

Reading Beyond Reading: Literary Studies and the Problem of Method

Department of English; Department of Visual Studies

Over the last decade, many literary critics have begun foregrounding dimensions of reading left unaccounted for by long-practiced methods such as critique and close reading. Rather than contribute to this trend by discrediting a familiar method or proposing a fresh one, Reading Beyond Reading: Literary Studies and the Problem of Method questions the very methodological foundation on which literary-critical discussions of reading rest. By identifying reading as a kind of problem for literary studies, rather than the rote grist for the discipline’s methodological mill, this dissertation develops reading not merely as an activity to describe or do, but as a critical heuristic for grasping the way literary studies conceives of itself as a discipline. In effect, I offer a theorization of reading as what exceeds method, which demands, I contend, an approach to reading that moves beyond strictly disciplinary protocols. Examining a diverse set of objects, from works of phenomenology to contemporary US fiction and film, I position reading’s theoretical excess as a more productive explanatory frame for the intersection of reading, technology, and capitalism in the contemporary US. Ultimately, in pursuing how reading is more than method, this project posits a more flexible, versatile framework that can move effectively across the complex terrain that characterizes reading in the twenty-first century.