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On the Materiality of Contemporary Reading Formations: The Case of Jari Tervo's Layla


This essay describes the emergence of a 'reading formation' around a Finnish bestselling novel, Layla, investigating how a specific dominant reading of Layla was constructed with the help of different material supports - including TV programmes, blogs, newspapers, websites and advertising infrastructure. The essay sets out Tony Bennett's concept of reading formation and develops it in the context of twenty-first century reading environments, paying special attention to the transformations associated with digital media and the book's material supports. By making empirical use of actor-network theory, the essay suggests that contemporary reading formations should be perceived as hybrid networks of both human and non-human actors, technologies and texts. By focusing especially on the circulation of Layla's opening sentence across different material platforms, and describing its interaction with different actors, the essay depicts how certain interdependencies between different actors and material mechanisms controlled the proliferation of meanings around Layla. Thus, the essay investigates how specific culturalist meanings of Kurds as a violent and misogynist people were materially constructed at the expense of tendencies to polysemy in the text.

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