Against close reading

Alex Reid, Digital Digs, Apr 15, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

There are some really good observations in this post. The practise of 'close reading' as it is widely taught involves "the careful, sustained interpretation of a brief passage of text." A common criticism of social media and online reading is that students "find nuance, complexity, or just plain length of literary texts less to their liking than we did." I don't think they ever found it to their liking, but let's assume they do. Alex Reid asks, "What does it mean to read your Facebook status feed closely when what is being offered to you has been produced by algorithmic procedures that take account of your own activities in ways that you are not consciously aware?" It's not so much that close reading is irrelevant, but rather, that close reading has changed, and while students may be aware of the new nuances, the same is not clear of instructors still embedded in critical theory (and still bent with noses in books). As Reid says, "we should pay closer attention to the ways in which the operation of text is shifting." Image: Sheron Brown, found here.

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