This article traces the history of the word anxiety and explores its use as a way to describe the act of literary interpretation. Returning to Stanley Fish’s idea of the interpretive community, the article argues that pedagogy often reinforces anxiety as an individual, isolating experience. This bespeaks a larger concern about the role of pedagogy in student and faculty life. The article concludes by encouraging faculty to consider anxiety as an energy that can be productively harnessed through the construction of a more emotionally aware interpretive community.

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