Reading as Belief: Language Writing, Poetics, Faith

Hardcover | October 15, 2009

byJoel Bettridge

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Reading as Belief advances the provocative idea that the disruptive techniques of recent innovative poetry require readers to become believers, occupying the same philosophical ground as the religious faithful. Pairing the poets Charles Bernstein and Bruce Andrews with John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards, and drawing on the work of diverse thinkers such as Wendy Brown, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Walter Benjamin, Stanley Cavell, William James, and Gilles Deleuze, this book demonstrates how belief, faith and language-attuned critical inquiry share an epistemology, one concerned with making meaning in the absence of certainty. Bettridge argues that recognizing such common ground helps overcome the cultural and philosophical impasse following the collapse of modernity’s central narratives about language and liberal subjectivity.

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Reading as Belief advances the provocative idea that the disruptive techniques of recent innovative poetry require readers to become believers, occupying the same philosophical ground as the religious faithful. Pairing the poets Charles Bernstein and Bruce Andrews with John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards, and drawing on the work of divers...

Joel Bettridge is Assistant Professor of English at Portland State University. He is the author of two books of poetry, That Abrupt Here and Presocratic Blues, and the co-editor (with Eric Selinger) of Ronald Johnson: Life and Works.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:204 pages, 8.36 × 5.71 × 0.62 inPublished:October 15, 2009Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230619428

ISBN - 13:9780230619425

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Table of Contents

“No One to Drive the Car” * A Brief History of Language Writing * Faith, Belief, Poetics * The (Calvinist) Spirit of Understanding * Ghosts, Jokes, Shadowtime, and Faithful Interpretation * What it Means to be Reader-centered: Jonathan Edwards * Bruce Andrews’s Lip Service and the Character of True Reading * Reading Alone

Editorial Reviews

"Bettridge's Reading as Belief is surprising, provocative, and engaging. On the surface of it, to link Charles Bernstein and Bruce Andrews to John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards, and to do so around issues of faith and poetics will strike most readers as quite peculiar. And that is precisely the heart of the book's attractiveness: providing us with a truly fresh perspective for considering the premises of experimental poetry and poetics as modes of faith. Bettridge asks us to consider the ethics of reading, instructing us to think about the relationship of poetics to faith. The result is a strange, wonderful book that points toward an ethics of engagement that applies equally to poetry and scripture and that leads us toward a mode of reading that links fully with the conduct of a life." - Hank Lazer, author of Lyric & Spirit: Selected Essays 1996-2008 "Bettridge offers a dare. He dares you to read the notorious Language poets as if they professed a faith. What faith? A faith that creative readers, residing in the gap between words and the world, can constantly remake themselves and what they know." - Stephen Fredman, University of Notre Dame "Bettridge's skilful handling of this large topic - the poet-text-reader relationship and American liberalism - represents well, I think, the lucid percipience we see throughout the book . . . This is a provocative first book by a young poet-critic, and I am eager to see what he does next." - Textual Practice "Bettridge contends that Language poetry, despite its embrace of ambiguity, is never meaningless. Rather, it grows from an aesthetics that is always socially and politically charged. The nature of that aesthetic, however, is to disrupt assumption, and therefore a primary question for Language poetry (as with any practice that entails belief) is 'in what terms can we establish a new confidence in what we think we know?'(3). This book employs Language poets and their works as exemplars for a model of language-as-belief not only because of the disruptive and ambiguous quality of Language texts but also because Language writing functions as a clear test case: poets like Charles Bernstein and Bruce Andrews clearly do not traffic in the discourse of faith and belief." - Jacket 2