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STIBET | Ways of Reading: New Perspectives and Approaches to the Reading of Literary Texts


Dec 08, 2020 from 11:00 to 04:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC100)


online (Webex)

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+49 641 / 99-30 054

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 “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” 

Frederick Douglass 


Project Description 

Letters form words and words form sentences: this is how one learns to read. As children, we were taught to dutifully follow each line from left to right. As we become proficient readers, we discover that meaning can also hide in-between the lines: there is much more to reading than mastering our ABC’s. 

Reading is a sophisticated mental activity that requires proper training to uncover and be aware of the layers and nuances comprised in words. The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘to read’ as to “consider, interpret, discern” a text; the breadth of this definition suggests that there are multiple ways of reading

This workshop offers an exploration of different reading strategies to demonstrate that what constitutes literacy in the 21st century is not only the ability to work with texts but also to work with meanings enclosed in texts. As opposed to reading techniques (e.g. skimming) which focus on reading for factual information, this workshop concentrates on different conceptual and theoretical approaches to discerning layers of meaning from literary texts. The workshop offers a practical opportunity to discuss and engage with various reading strategies, which can reveal an array of creative meanings from literary texts. 


The key concept of this course is reading, which will be explored by navigating through the many activities that this term encompasses. Thus, the participants will be invited to look beyond its apparent simplicity by exploring several strategies of reading. 

This course aims to offer a general overview of some ways of reading as well as the opportunity to explore: 

1. Close Reading & Distant Reading 

2. Symptomatic & Surface Reading 

3. Diffractive Reading 

4. Deconstructive Reading 

5. Non-Reading 

Workshop Structure 

After discussing the concept of reading, the workshop combines brief presentations of each reading strategy with a set of engaging group-exercises, in which the participants are invited to apply different ways of reading on excerpts of a literary text, curated by the workshop organizers. 

The results will be shared in a plenary session, to reflect on pros and cons of each reading strategy, as well as to discuss how, by adopting a different reading strategy, the same text can be understood in different ways. 

The 4-hour course is intended for all graduate and undergraduate students who are interested in working with issues of meaning in literary texts. Academic background in literature is an advantage but not a requirement. What matters most is the participant's interest in literature and in discovering new ways to approach texts charged with layers of meaning, and challenging their reading habits.


// Lucia Toman & Stefano Rozzoni