Skip to main content
placeholder image

Philology, or the art of befriending the text

Journal Article


Download full-text (Open Access)

Abstract


  • This essay examines the 1960s/1970s' transformation of the text as an object of reading, and argues for an equivalent transformation of philology as a practice of reading. I focus on the oscillation between reading as literacy (the capacity to recognize and decipher a given language) and reading as interpretation (the capacity to respond to the text). This oscillation itself results from an irreducible ambiguity in the text: both a stable verbal artifact with a determinable form and a bearer of indeterminate meaning. Reading Roland Barthes's critique of philology and Ursula Le Guin's science-fictional paean to its possibilities ('The Author of the Acacia Seeds'), I argue for a philological practice that resists, questions, and repositions the closure of the text.

Publication Date


  • 2014

Citation


  • Willis, I. "Philology, or the art of befriending the text." Postmedieval: A Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies 5 .4 (2014): 486-501.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84926294408

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2948&context=lhapapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/1942

Number Of Pages


  • 15

Start Page


  • 486

End Page


  • 501

Volume


  • 5

Issue


  • 4

Place Of Publication


  • United Kingdom

Abstract


  • This essay examines the 1960s/1970s' transformation of the text as an object of reading, and argues for an equivalent transformation of philology as a practice of reading. I focus on the oscillation between reading as literacy (the capacity to recognize and decipher a given language) and reading as interpretation (the capacity to respond to the text). This oscillation itself results from an irreducible ambiguity in the text: both a stable verbal artifact with a determinable form and a bearer of indeterminate meaning. Reading Roland Barthes's critique of philology and Ursula Le Guin's science-fictional paean to its possibilities ('The Author of the Acacia Seeds'), I argue for a philological practice that resists, questions, and repositions the closure of the text.

Publication Date


  • 2014

Citation


  • Willis, I. "Philology, or the art of befriending the text." Postmedieval: A Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies 5 .4 (2014): 486-501.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84926294408

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2948&context=lhapapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/1942

Number Of Pages


  • 15

Start Page


  • 486

End Page


  • 501

Volume


  • 5

Issue


  • 4

Place Of Publication


  • United Kingdom