This essay explores intersections between reading and privilege and moves out from a survey of faculty reading practices to consider what is at stake in distinguishing between “real” and “instrumental” reading. Allen argues that, as privileged subjects, teachers can best help students approach reading as the negotiation of uncertainty when teachers themselves undertake such negotiation. That is, instructors do well to consciously inhabit and emotionally integrate their own contradictory desires for reading—the desire for institutional viability associated with instrumental reading, on the one hand, and the desire for the leisured thought of real reading, on the other.

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