Seminar – Amy Hungerford on ‘Solitude, Reading Practices and the Humanities’

In the second paper in our 2019/20 seminar series, Amy Hungerford from Yale University charts the history of reading practices and their relationship with solitude.
ArtsTwo 3.20, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS Map

This paper explores efforts since the 18th century to create what we might think of as mental space: interior solitude or cognitive clarity conducive to productive individual thought. Practices of reading — which include admonition not to read — become key to such efforts for thinkers as varied as the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer in the 1840s and American social scientist Robert K. Merton, proponent of ‘middle level theory’ in the field of sociology in the 1960s. The paper ultimately argues that these modern reading practices, as they intersect with ideas about solitary thought, are shaping the humanities in surprising ways – from the design of campus architecture to our ideas about the ‘productivity’ of mental labor.

No registration required for this seminar – all are welcome.