The material elements of writing have long been undervalued, and have been dismissed by recent historicising trends of criticism; but analysis of these elements - sound, signature, letters - can transform our understanding of literary texts. In this book Tom Cohen shows how, in an era of representational criticism and cultural studies, the role of close reading has been overlooked. Arguing that much recent criticism has been caught in potentially regressive models of representation, Professor Cohen undertakes to counter this by rethinking the ‘materiality’ of the text itself. Through a series of revealing new readings of the work of writers including Plato, Bakhtin, Poe, Whitman and Conrad, Professor Cohen exposes the limitations of new historicism and neo-pragmatism, and demonstrates how ‘the materiality of language’ operates to undo the representational models of meaning imposed by the literary canon.
Literature, Culture, Theory
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