An Australian ethics of reading?

Book chapter


Nolan, Maggie. (2020) An Australian ethics of reading? In In Gildersleeve, Jessica (Ed.). The routledge companion to Australian literature pp. 171-178 Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003124160
AuthorsNolan, Maggie
EditorsGildersleeve, Jessica
Abstract

At the turn of the century, John Guillory made the grand claim that reading is ‘the principle ethical practice of modernity.’ For Guillory, the persistent gap between what he refers to as professional (or academic) and lay modes of reading is the key reason why we have not been able to recognise reading as an ethical practice. This paper explores this claim and teases out its implications through the lens of shared reading and suggests that the phenomenon of the book club may well be one of the principal ethical spaces of modernity. In thinking through this question, this paper outlines a range of arguments in relation to the ethics of reading and draws on recent theorisations of post-critique, which has also advocated a commitment to overcoming the distance between academic and lay readers.

What does it mean to be an ethical reader? Is it an attitude that one brings to a text, or is it a mode or practice of reading? If so, what would that practice look like? How does one become an ethical reader? Does it require disciplinary training, or does reading ethically pay no heed to literary features? Can an ethical relation to a text be established in advance – or does it emerge through the process and practice of reading? And, more pertinent to this collection, but also more speculatively, is there a national dimension to these questions – is there an Australian ethics of reading?

Page range171-178
Year2020
Book titleThe routledge companion to Australian literature
PublisherRoutledge
Place of publicationNew York
Edition1st
ISBN9781003124160
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003124160
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online23 Dec 2020
Publication process dates
Deposited18 Jun 2021
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