Katarzyna Bartoszynska responds to Carolyn Dever

I’m intrigued by Carolyn Dever’s use of the terms inclusivity and collaboration to characterize the type of reading that Elaine Auyoung describes. Certainly, I agree that Auyoung contributes to arguments that insist on reading as an active process rather than a passive one, and highlight the knowledge that readers bring to the text as crucial to the production of meaning. I wonder, however, whether readers have enough agency, in this account, to elevate their participation into collaboration – to me it seems that the options for meaning actually remain somewhat circumscribed (Milan Terlunen’s response raises even more significant points about these limitations).

The version of inclusivity at work seems similarly restricted. In the Tolstoy chapter, for instance, Auyoung describes how a Russian culture that may be unfamiliar to readers is rendered approachable through the incorporation of references or analogies that readers would recognize. But to what extent does the text make room for experiences of the reader that the author would find unfamiliar or strange? This seems harder to establish, and is a very interesting question to bring to Auyoung’s work.

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