“Reading for Pleasure” suggests a way of drawing the line between what is and what is not theory today. Following Roland Barthes, the author uses her own reading pleasure as a gauge, taking pleasure to be idiosyncratic rather than subjective. Assuming that all types of criticism are driven by a certain kind of pleasure, the essay looks at two genres—that of “exuberant critique” and that of “expansive system-building”—but finds theoretical pleasure only in a third genre: the form of criticism that embraces contradiction and incorporates it into its very practice.

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