Drawn from an ASECS 2012 panel titled, “Why We Argue About the Way We Read,” this collection of short essays engages the call for “surface reading” recently put forth by Sharon Marcus and Stephen Best in a special issue of Representations. Each of the speakers on the panel was asked to consider Best’s and Marcus’s “Introduction,” to cogitate on what they each felt was at stake in their own reading methods, and, in the spirit of engagement, to offer a polemic on behalf of those practices. The prompt resulted not only in a lively critique of the idea of “surface reading,” but also in an animated “conversation” about the art of criticism in Eighteenth-Century Studies, about the theoretical paradigms and methodologies that we employ, and about the sharp insights and surprising delights that a nimble-minded critical practice can yield.


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pp. 121-124
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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