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The Suspension of Reading: Wordsworth's 'Boy of Winander' and Trauma Theory

Pieter Vermeulen (2007) Orbis Litterarum: International Review of Literary Studies. 62(6). p.459-482
abstract
This article offers a close reading of the different versions of Wordsworth's ''Boy of Winander''-passage and of an important exchange between Geoffrey Hartman and Paul de Man on this passage in the 1960s, in which ''reading'' and ''theory'' are contrasted as two mutually exclusive options that cannot be combined in one critical account. This tension between reading and theory is then deployed to offer a critique of the field of trauma theory, which has explicitly instituted itself as both a theory and a reading practice. I develop the position of Hartman in order to contrast trauma theory's prevailing fascination with theory, which invests in the figure of a ''fall'' and in the notion of ''undecidability,'' with the (to my mind, more promising) possibility of an account of the experience of reading, which consists in the ''suspension'' of theory and deploys a notion of ''indeterminacy'' that ultimately gives a more satisfying account of the implication of the reader in the relation between literature and trauma.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
Wordsworth, trauma, Paul de Man, Geoffrey Hartman, Boy of Winander, indeterminacy
journal title
Orbis Litterarum: International Review of Literary Studies
Orb. Litt.
volume
62
issue
6
pages
459 - 482
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000250984600002
ISSN
0105-7510
language
English
UGent publication?
no
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have retained and own the full copyright for this publication
id
1059702
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-1059702
date created
2010-10-16 12:04:29
date last changed
2016-12-19 15:46:27
@article{1059702,
  abstract     = {This article offers a close reading of the different versions of Wordsworth's ''Boy of Winander''-passage and of an important exchange between Geoffrey Hartman and Paul de Man on this passage in the 1960s, in which ''reading'' and ''theory'' are contrasted as two mutually exclusive options that cannot be combined in one critical account. This tension between reading  and theory is then deployed to offer a critique of the field of trauma theory, which has explicitly instituted itself as both a theory and a reading practice. I develop the position of Hartman in order to contrast trauma theory's prevailing fascination with theory, which invests in the figure of a ''fall'' and in the notion of ''undecidability,'' with the (to my mind, more promising) possibility of an account of the experience of reading, which consists in the ''suspension'' of theory and deploys a notion of ''indeterminacy'' that ultimately gives a more satisfying account of the implication of the reader in the relation between literature and trauma.},
  author       = {Vermeulen, Pieter},
  issn         = {0105-7510},
  journal      = {Orbis Litterarum: International Review of Literary Studies},
  keyword      = {Wordsworth,trauma,Paul de Man,Geoffrey Hartman,Boy of Winander,indeterminacy},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {6},
  pages        = {459--482},
  title        = {The Suspension of Reading: Wordsworth's 'Boy of Winander' and Trauma Theory},
  volume       = {62},
  year         = {2007},
}

Chicago
Vermeulen, Pieter. 2007. “The Suspension of Reading: Wordsworth’s ‘Boy of Winander’ and Trauma Theory.” Orbis Litterarum: International Review of Literary Studies 62 (6): 459–482.
APA
Vermeulen, P. (2007). The Suspension of Reading: Wordsworth’s “Boy of Winander” and Trauma Theory. Orbis Litterarum: International Review of Literary Studies, 62(6), 459–482.
Vancouver
1.
Vermeulen P. The Suspension of Reading: Wordsworth’s “Boy of Winander” and Trauma Theory. Orbis Litterarum: International Review of Literary Studies. 2007;62(6):459–82.
MLA
Vermeulen, Pieter. “The Suspension of Reading: Wordsworth’s ‘Boy of Winander’ and Trauma Theory.” Orbis Litterarum: International Review of Literary Studies 62.6 (2007): 459–482. Print.