Forthcoming from Routledge: DEEP LITERACY, DIGITAL TIME

Winslow Homer’s “Autograph letter to Louis Prang” (1895)

Now that the contracts are all signed, I’m thrilled to be able to share that, together with the incomparable Miranda Dunham-Hickman, I’m co-authoring a book! 📚

DEEP LITERACY, DIGITAL TIME will be published by Routledge as part of their New Literary Theory series. Our book addresses a wave of contemporary thought on a nexus of concepts connecting ideas of depth with both attention and a range of adjacent topics, including reading, literacy, and the nature and value of aesthetic experience. e.g., We respond to the concern that, in an increasingly digital world, we’re facing a cultural diminishment in our ability to pay attention, read, and interpret in the sustained, immersive, and transformative ways traditionally associated with print-based literacies.

In this line of thought, we examine linked modes of attention and cognitive styles conducive to empathic understanding, sensitive engagement with unfamiliar areas of experience, historical awareness, and capacities connected to the development of informed citizenship. Our book interweaves the present-day with the historical, highlighting especially early- to mid-twentieth century British and American commentators such as I. A. Richards, Q. D. Leavis, Louise Rosenblatt, and Kenneth Burke. Along the way, we suggest that looking to poetry in particular, such as through forms of what Lucy Alford calls “poetic attention,” can enrich this cultural conversation on depth, reading, and cognitive modes.

The NLT series examines questions such as “Why does or should literature matter to us?” and “What is its value and significance for human existence in the twenty-first century?”. I’ve felt very much at home bringing this work there.

So many folks to thank!—

– Above all, Miranda, for truly being the most amazing collaborator. Whether on this project or any other, every meeting, every milestone has been a source of forward momentum and verve. I always leave our discussions feeling energized and empowered.

– The Poetry Matters community, a focal point of my McGill University years. I’ll never forget how strongly I felt, during my first encounter with the group in September of 2018, that what we had was something special. This project is in many ways a result of those exchanges.

– Adriana X. Jacobs and Liesl Yamaguchi, for hosting the ‘Turning-points’ seminar at last year’s ACLA conference. It was such an inviting and expansive space in which to present a version of this work in an official setting for the first time. I’m grateful for that experience.

– The editors of the NLT series, Andy Mousley and Jeff Wallace. Their involvement has been a game changer — I’ve been heartened by their response to the project and appreciative of their advocacy in bringing it to bear.

– Karen Raith at Routledge, for deftly navigating us through all things publishing-related.

– The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, for their generous support over the years. They have afforded me time to focus my energies and my attention in ways that have allowed for the space needed for long-term projects and ideas like these to take shape.

– My incredible parents, for their love and enthusiasm all throughout, including when this was just yet another project floating around the edges of my to-do list. They were among the first to really believe in this work, and they remain its biggest supporters.

Working within the orbit of the academic sphere is a funny thing. It’s a lot of proposals and possiblys, sending things out into the ether with little sense of when you might hear back and even less sense of the probability of success. It’s rare that something you’re genuinely invested in and excited about makes it out of the desk drawer and into the world. I’m delighted that this gets to be one of them.

View the original announcement on Twitter here, and a recent interview with my co-author, Miranda Dunham-Hickman, here.