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ParaliteraryThe Making of Bad Readers in Postwar America$
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Merve Emre

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226473833

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226474021.001.0001

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Merve Emre

University of Chicago Press

Each chapter of this book concerns readers and writers—some famous, but many not—who were trained by their new institutional contexts to treat literary texts as repositories of “typical situations, roles, possible trains of events, [and] schemes of action (sensory-motor, schemes of perception, evaluation, appreciation, etc.),” to recall sociologist Bernard Lahire’s extensive catalog of how people read once reading literature is no longer fixed as an aesthetic or autonomous enterprise. This book is about how these strange, but no less systematic or meticulously considered, methods of reading came to shape the constellation of aesthetic and communicative practices within which postwar American literature flourished. At the same time, it is an account of how American literature made its mark on the world in strange and unappreciated ways: not only through the triumphal globalization of literary production, as so many transnational or comparative critics would have it, but through distinctly nationalized practices of literary consumption at home and in the world at large.

Keywords:   paraliterary, bad reading, Cold War, discourse pragmatics, internationalism

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