Accidents in Reading: A Psychoanalytic Inquiry into the Reader's Emotional Life
Labove, Alecia Lynn
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In this dissertation, I examine the emotional landscape of literacy and its breakdowns to suggest that difficulties in reading have something to teach us about literacy and education. Engaging psychoanalytic theories of development, language, and literacy I situate reading as a psycho social practice that at once leans on the reader's emotional life and can be felt to undo the reader from the inside out. To do so, I investigate fictional representations of readers who find themselves exorbitantly affected in the act of reading. Attending to the ways in which reading difficulties telegraph back to the infant's earliest conflicts as depicted by child psychoanalyst Melanie Klein, I analyze accidents in reading that represent three different emotional situations: greed, trauma, and reparation. My engagement with these accidents in reading contributes to conversations about the significance of the unconscious in personality development, educational life, and our dependence on others in the social world. With this study I do not seek to "fix" reading difficulties but rather, to better recognize reading as an existential "fix" that can renew our stories of self and of what it means to inhabit a world with others.