Hazardous Conditions: On Reading and Being Read in Virginia Woolf, Zora Neale Hurston, Una Marson, and Claudia Rankine

Peter Murray, Fordham University

Abstract

Hazardous Conditions puts forth a new mode of textual analysis reimagining intertextual relationships to establish new conditions, contexts, and frames of reference with which one can read. Following Barbara Johnson’s model of reading, Hazardous Conditions reads to be surprised in an attempt to experience ignorance as an ethical imperative to think otherwise. To hazard, to risk what one thinks one knows can illuminate complicit relations to and with epistemic regimes perpetuating systematic inequality, which, in turn, create hazardous conditions for others. Extrapolated from Claudia Rankine’s use of “hazard,” this project puts forth hazardous reading as a self-reflexive reading style to encounter the “surprise of otherness” in works from Virginia Woolf, Zora Neale Hurston, Una Marson, and Rankine herself. Each chapter practices a hazardous reading that shows an experience of ignorance motivating an ethical imperative to change our thinking, reading, and writing of each writer’s relation to feminism. This objective is also pursued on a theoretical level through the project’s methodological focus on works from Barbara Johnson whose interdisciplinary tendencies tend to be excluded from supposedly inclusive schools of thought like queer theory. Subsequently, Hazardous Conditions is a reminder and a rejoinder to repay the debt owed to the world of difference feminist literatures, theories, and practices have made in our critical conversations.^

Subject Area

American literature

Recommended Citation

Murray, Peter, "Hazardous Conditions: On Reading and Being Read in Virginia Woolf, Zora Neale Hurston, Una Marson, and Claudia Rankine" (2018). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10815697.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI10815697

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