In this response piece, I consider the variety of ways in which reading may be said to work upon a reader, and I bring out the importance of the idea of affect in this respect. I note that affect is frequently conceived of in a positive light, and my argument shifts to ask what happens if the reader is bored, puzzled, disgusted, irritated, or otherwise disengaged. Using Patricia Meyer Spacks's Boredom and Sianne Ngai's Ugly Feelings as critical works to support my case, I suggest that we should pay more attention to the ways in which reading may confuse or alienate us, and I maintain that these negative affects are ones of particular importance when we consider the global reach of the novel. How might we understand and negotiate what I term “unsatisfactory reading,” especially if it is provoked through the unfamiliarity of literary or social convention?
Kate Flint; What Can Reading Do?. Novel 1 May 2012; 45 (1): 19–22. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00295132-1541315
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