Department of American Culture and Literature
30th Anniversary Conference
November 7 – 9, 2012
Reading has had numerous meanings for different people at different times and places. From reading an animal’s tracks, or a street sign, to reading Derrida, the act of reading has referred to a wide range of activities. People have read for practical purposes (for information, for knowledge, or for material gain), for holy ends (the Quran said “Read in the name of your Lord”), for political and social reasons (“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free,” said Frederick Douglass), for entertainment, etc. In the age of computers, cell phones, and the Internet, traditional notions about the significance of reading, its function, and value seem to be challenged in various ways. Our conference aims to take a fresh look at the “good old practice” of reading in all its denotations and connotations from all possible quarters and perspectives, provided that papers relate to the American context.
Possible topics may include:
- Reading practices across cultures: anthropology of reading.
- Reading across race, gender, class, and nationality.
- Historical and cultural forms of literacy and illiteracy: from knowing the alphabet to media literacy.
- Economy of reading: advertising and marketing (book fairs, book signing, newspaper book supplements); reader as consumer and book as a commercial product; literary awards and prizes.
- Reading high and low: questions of taste and preference; popular literature; war of the genres, etc.
- Reading and the institution: reading and institutional practices (legal, medical, religious, etc.) and the issue of power.
- Reading critically: role of literary criticism; theories of reading such as Marxist, feminist, poststructuralist, etc.; particularly reader oriented approaches, their methods and strategies; types of readers, such as ideal reader, implied reader, informed reader etc.
- Politics of reading: right to read; reading as a medium of social change; censorship of reading; reading and ideology.
- Reading, knowledge and information: libraries and archives, cultural heritage and texts.
- Reading communities such as book clubs and blogs, social networks, interpretive communities, etc.
- Representations of reading: acts of reading within the literary text (the character as reader), in cinema, visual arts, the media, and popular culture.
- Reading to write and writing to be read, or not to be read (e.g., Emily Dickinson); writers as readers of their own works or others’ works; writers on reading.
- Reading materials: nature (e.g., for transcendentalists), cave writings, coffee-cups and palms, laundry lists, letters, books, periodicals, anthologies, the Internet, etc.
- Comparative approaches to the entry points above.
Abstracts between 200 to 300 words and a short bio should be sent to Dr. Ceylan Özcan at firstname.lastname@example.org by August 1, 2012.
For more information about the conference, see our departmental website:
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