Reading Matters is necessarily a work - or practice - in progress. It sets out to challenge our conception of “reading” by emphasizing the potentiality of both practices of reading and their many media. In doing so, the project draws attention not only to the multiplicity of media forms, but also points to their materiality and the implications for a different mode of reading (matter). Consequently, Reading Matters aims to articulate the political and ethical potential of a generative reading practice. In this sense, reading, understood as political, ethical and generative practice, does indeed matter.
Situating knowledges and creating cartographies is a major concern that drives this project. What could happen in the formation of a new discursive territory, namely one that could both traverse our respective disciplines, while bringing into focus, still, the strengths of each therein? Reading, as it is understood in the context of this project, is not an isolated and individual practice of making sense, but requires transversal practices and alliances. The creation of transversal space in which heterogeneous practices and singularities can thrive, interact and thereby generate different knowledges is a crucial task the Humanities have to face. It is our claim that in order to build an academic future which remains fixed in its orientation towards justice, we need a matrix, a substance, in which to drive in our stakes. And this geography is not simply the adoption of existing cartographies, but requires actively drawing new lines, defining new seismic patterns, and building new visual horizons.
Reading, here, goes beyond written texts, books and it being understood as a form of cognitively making sense of linguistic constructs. Indeed, broadening our understanding of what a practice of reading entails by enacting further verbs—like sensing, perceiving, registering, detecting— sharpens our skills as readers, and allows us to consider flux, temporality and spatiality in our reading encounters. Broadening the registers of reading, as a method and practice, shifts also the very matter—that is, the materiality—of what is read: literary texts, social media commentary, sound and oceanic waves, satellite imagery, digitally coded networks, logistics landscapes, bodies both human and non-human, DNA sequences, germinating forms of life, energy quanta, patterns of velocity, assemblage deformities, or the real, yet contested manifestations of climate change. This inevitably urges us to ask who or what actually performs reading(s): is it human, non-human, post-human? Individual? Collective? An electronic camera shutter? An algorithm?
Matter in Reading Matters thus refers to the significance of reading and its potential to have an impact on something or on somebody. It matters. But it also refers to some material substance - of whatever size and consistency, whether perceivable to us or not - that differs from ideas and conceptualizations. Reading does matter. Perhaps now more than ever, not least because its tasks have exorbitantly multiplied, and our ability to catch up with them has become not only a question of degrees of mastery of a specific academic skill, but, as we are claiming, of political and ethical response-ability. Matters of reading come from the text, and necessarily leave it. Reading Matters thus seeks to articulate and experiment with generative and creative practices and modes of reading that allow us to be response-able to political, social, and ecological issues, and correspond to our situatedness within our academic and personal contexts.