Kai Merten is professor of British literature at the University of Erfurt. His main research and teaching interests are British literature and culture from various medial, material and global perspectives. He is the founder of the Erfurt Network on New Materialism (ENNM) and has initiated cooperations in the field of New Materialist methodologies with similar research groups in Erfurt (Max-Weber-Kolleg), Weimar, Utrecht, Berlin, Aarhus, Odense, Kiel and Warsaw.
1. Introduction - Kai Merten (Erfurt, Germany)
PART I: Diffractive Reading: Groundwork
2. On the Politics of Diffractive Reading - Birgit M. Kaiser
3. Heraclitus’s speculative onto-story: Impossible appointments and the importance of the encounter - Max Walther
4. Decoherent Reading: On the Constitutive Exclusions of Diffractive Reading - Stacey Moran
5. Reading speculative horror readings diffractively - Peter Schuck
PART II: Diffracting Literature: Diffractions of the World-Text-Reader Entanglement
6. Poem, Epic, and Epoch: A Diffractive Reading of William Carlos Williams’s Paterson and Georg Lukács’s Theory of the Novel in the Age of New Materialism - Brendan Johnston
7. Sauron’s Sliding Door: The Diffraction of Mythological and Intimate ‘Evil’ in Tolkien - Bo Kampmann Walther
8. Sensing I and Eyes in Ali Smith’s How to Be Both - Daniela Keller
9. Practices of Entanglement: UnReading the Genre in China Miéville’sThe Scar - Agnieszka Kotwasińska
10. The Entanglements of Harry Burden: A Diffractive Reading of Siri Hustvedt - Matthias Stephan
11. Surfacing: A diffractive reading experiment with books and houses in Walter Benjamin’s Ich packe meine Bibliothek aus and Carlos María Domínguez’ Casa de papel - Annina Klappert
PART III: Diffracting (in) Music, Visual and Digital Media
12. Diffractive Aesthetics & Holographic Literacies: Transcoding the Gigaton Volume Detector [A Diffracted Photo-Essay] - Jol Thoms
13. Diffracting Maternal and Female Midlife Sexual Assemblages in Postfeminist Popular Culture - Susan Yi Sencindiver
14. Ontoflecting Through U2 - Nathan D. Frank
15. Reprogramming Rhetoric: Toward a Diffractive Epistemology of Computer Composition - Sean McCullough
Reading is never neutral, never distant: it always makes a difference, it always interferes. That is the message—in theory and practice—of this volume insightfully edited by Kai Merten. In an entangled conversation of topics and voices, Diffractive Reading has a double goal: refining a methodology and involving more readers in the process. Reality, it tells you, is in the making even as you read these words.
How do we read a text, the world, the ideas of others, together? In this important book, Kai Merten gathers a range of contributions from different parts of academia, showing us the power of reading all that matters diffractively. These are affirmative and engaged mappings of a world in the making. A must read for all involved in how to analyse the contemporary.