Cultivating Childishness: The Gertrude Stein First Reader and the Reparative Turn in Criticism

Taylor, Julie (2018) Cultivating Childishness: The Gertrude Stein First Reader and the Reparative Turn in Criticism. Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, 37 (2). pp. 349-375. ISSN 0732-7730

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This article argues that The Gertrude Stein First Reader (1946), a text that plays
with the form of the nineteenth-century literacy textbook and was originally pitched to an educational children’s publisher, is more productively understood as disrupting the reading practices of adults than as a work of children’s literature. The long-neglected First Reader articulates the value of a queer reading practice rooted in the ambiguous notion of childishness, a concept distinguished here from childlikeness. Stein’s unorthodox pedagogy and her First Reader’s celebration of such “childish” reading practices as error, unmastery, incompetence, and ignorance are put into dialogue with theory’s recent rejection of suspicious, symptomatic and paranoid models of reading. This critical turn began with Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s articulation of a queer “reparative reading” and has developed into a broader attack on critique and the “hermeneutics of suspicion.” The present article locates in Stein’s work the connections between childishness, queerness, and reparative practices and identifies childishness as an important trope for thinking through contemporary styles in criticism and pedagogy, a trope which allows readers to keep in view the specifically queer origins of the reparative turn.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q300 English studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2018 08:02
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 13:50

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