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Calibrations: Reading For The Social
by Ato Quayson
University of Minnesota Press, 2003
Cloth: 978-0-8166-3839-0 | Paper: 978-0-8166-3840-6
Library of Congress Classification PN849.A35Q38 2003
Dewey Decimal Classification 809.896

Proposes an entirely new socially and politically conscious way of reading.

Ato Quayson explores a practice of reading that oscillates rapidly between domains--the literary-aesthetic, the social, the cultural, and the political--in order to uncover the mutually illuminating nature of these domains. He does this not to assert the often repeated postmodernist view that there is nothing outside the text, but to outline a method of reading he calls calibrations: a form of close reading of literature with what lies beyond it as a way of understanding structures of transformation, process, and contradiction that inform both literature and society.

Quayson surveys a wide array of texts--ranging from Bob Marley lyrics, Toni Morrison's work, Walter Benjamin's Theses on the Philosophy of History, and Althusser's reflections on political economy--and treats a broad range of themes: the comparative structures of alienation in literature and anthropology, cultural heroism as a trope in African society and politics, literary tragedy as a template for reading the life and activism of Ken Saro-Wiwa, trauma and the status of citizenship in post-apartheid South Africa, representations of physical disability, and the clash between enchanted and disenchanted time in postcolonial texts.

Ato Quayson is director of the African Studies Centre, lecturer in English, and fellow of Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge.
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