Reading With: A New Series of Posts

Recently I posted “Fucking with Friedman,” the first of a new type of post that will consist of close readings of short excerpts of texts, for students and anyone who’s interested. The idea is to include short excerpts from sources I’m currently reading—primarily on race, class, gender, decolonialism, capitalism, logistics, infrastructure, cities, and disaster—to share the early stages of a project in the form of critical reading.

Many students come into my courses thinking they should read the assigned texts straight through, or that they have to say they like the texts simply because I’ve assigned them. Instead, like many professors and educators, I emphasize that reading is a dialogue between author and reader, so it’s crucial to think and take notes in detail about how a text is positioned and framed, where it comes from, who it erases, and what its arguments do. Each post will only consider a few pages from the text at hand, and usually a much longer set of notes to explain why and how I read it.

Overall I’m in favor of avoiding simply tearing down sources, instead trying to read them in an effort to get what you can out of them, to go along with their framework temporarily when it is useful to do so. After all, I choose to read things because I expect them to be insightful in at least one way, if not in others. However, it’s also important to directly address pervasive legacies of racism, Islamophobia, sexism, classism, and homophobia wherever they show up. So I’m more than happy if students respond affectively in many different ways, both positive and negative—as long as they are specific, tell me why, and think about how to alter a text so that it could be productive. That’s also what I’ll try to do here.

To see the Reading With posts, look at right under the tag cloud, where it says “categories.” Then click on the “readingwith” category, which is under “writing.” Posts will be intermittent due to my current time constraints.