Ling Yang


The ongoing reflection on critique in Western academia has given rise to a debate about the hermeneutics of suspicion and the methodology of reading, which finds its origin in Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s 1997 essay “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading.” In that seminal essay, Sedgwick draws on Melanie Klein’s psychoanalytical theory and Silvan Tomkins’s affect theory to identify paranoid reading as the dominant mode of contemporary literary studies. She also proposes, on the basis of queer reading and cultural practices, an alternative approach, namely, the reparative reading style. Sedgwick’s influential reading theory forces us to attend to the importance of affect in knowledge production in the humanities and reconsider the value of interpretation, as well as the relationship between the interpreter and the object of study. Informed by the theory of reparative reading, scholars such as Ann Cvetkovich and Rita Felski have developed new forms of criticism that would reinvigorate literary and cultural studies.


paranoid reading; reparative reading; postcritique; affect

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