This article examines the persistence of the notion of the immaterial text in literary studies, now decades into the so-called material turn. Digitization of manuscripts increasingly confronts us with the facts of textual materiality and material authorship, yet many scholars remain ill-equipped to engage these traces in order to expand the possibilities of textual interpretation. The journeys of Peter Handke’s notebooks serve as a case study on how to interrogate various definitions of text and methodological approaches that reinforce an understanding of texts as immaterial. This article thus elucidates the conceptual and methodological impediments to more comprehensively integrating materiality into interpretation; an uneasiness, for example, about approaching authorship—the process and agency of textual production—lingers despite resurrections since the Author’s “death” and more recent transdisciplinary retheorizations of agency. The article finally looks to reflections on materiality in another field, art history, to clarify the reasons that integrating materiality into interpretative criticism remains so difficult, so that the field might begin to move beyond these obstacles.

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