The Matter Of Reading

Saturday, 1 December, 12:00 - 14:00, 17:00 - 18:30
Sunday, 2 December, 14:00 - 15:00, 17:00 - 19:00

Host: Tanja Widmann
This session introduces the question of reading topical as well as practical. One of the most crucial questions of the Department of Reading concerns the collectiveness of reading and asks, in how far such a collectivity is potentially implied within the very texture of a given text. The format for this session will be a close reading, which will be repeated at least four times during the forty-eight hours of the symposium.
This mode of reading is meant to interrupt the progression of the text, to put the movement of writing on hold, in order to comment, deviate, translate and write on as well as to slow down and disrupt the movement and temporality of reading itself. This procedure can be seen as the attempt to insert the other, that is always already in motion as if haunting the text, and to alter and perform the otherness of the text within the text. As such, this close reading might give the text over to another potentiality and finds its place in between the script and its enactment, writing and reading. In this manner, we hope to develop a free use of text within a collective practice of the common.
This practice is indeed closely connected to Giorgio Agamben's writings, as they already seem to demand such a close reading, a forced as well as radicalised mode of reading. Part of this radicalised reading will be the focus on repetitive reading, rereading, thus a specific practice that we encounter within Agamben's text themselves – for example the rereadings of Walter Benjamin. One of our most urgent questions then aims to address the collectiveness of reading and asks, in how far this collectivity is potentially already implied within the very texture of Agamben's writings. Such a collective reading process – as it will and has been taking place with the Department of Reading – doesn’t mean a closure to the openness of the text, but rather renders the potentiality inherent in the text visible. Connected to this conviction is our question, whether this process of reading could allow for a passage from the realm of reading into other social practices.

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