Paraliterary: The Making Of Bad Readers In Postwar America by Merve EmreParaliterary: The Making Of Bad Readers In Postwar America by Merve Emre

Paraliterary: The Making Of Bad Readers In Postwar America

byMerve Emre

Paperback | November 16, 2017

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Literature departments are staffed by, and tend to be focused on turning out, “good” readers—attentive to nuance, aware of history, interested in literary texts as self-contained works. But the vast majority of readers are, to use Merve Emre’s tongue-in-cheek term, “bad” readers. They read fiction and poetry to be moved, distracted, instructed, improved, engaged as citizens. How should we think about those readers, and what should we make of the structures, well outside the academy, that generate them?
We should, Emre argues, think of such readers not as non-literary but as paraliterary—thriving outside the institutions we take as central to the literary world. She traces this phenomenon to the postwar period, when literature played a key role in the rise of American power. At the same time as American universities were producing good readers by the hundreds, many more thousands of bad readers were learning elsewhere to be disciplined public communicators, whether in diplomatic and ambassadorial missions, private and public cultural exchange programs, multinational corporations, or global activist groups. As we grapple with literature’s diminished role in the public sphere, Paraliterary suggests a new way to think about literature, its audience, and its potential, one that looks at the civic institutions that have long engaged readers ignored by the academy.
Merve Emre is assistant professor of English at McGill University.  
Title:Paraliterary: The Making Of Bad Readers In Postwar AmericaFormat:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.7 inPublished:November 16, 2017Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022647397X

ISBN - 13:9780226473970


Table of Contents

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Chapter One
Reading as Imitation

Chapter Two
Reading as Feeling

Chapter Three
Brand Reading

Chapter Four
Sight Reading

Chapter Five
Reading like a Bureaucrat

Chapter Six
Reading like a Revolutionary

Retracing One’s Steps

Editorial Reviews

“Paraliterary represents a major work of scholarship. A product of innovative conceptualization, deep research, and keen critical insight, this book will have a significant impact on several fields of literary study and cultural history. Scholars of American literature, of the cultural Cold War, of the sociology of literature, and of literary theory will be discussing it intently and referring to it often for years to come.”