Altitude: an e-journal of emerging humanities work

July 1, 2004

Reading Practice: Certain Hermeneutics and the ‘Problem Text’

Filed under: Volume 1: Subjectivities (2001) — Tags: , — Clifton Evers @ 5:06 am

by Paul Lobban, Altitude, Volume 1, Article 2, 2001.

PDF Version: Reading Practice: Certain Hermeneutics and the ‘Problem Text’

The initial difficulty for me is one I will return to again, that of the conjunction between different texts and modes of thought. In this specific case the conjunction is between the interpretative breadth and variability of Michel de Certeau’s inquiries into the practices of reading and writing, and the descriptively unadorned, relatively unknown personal diary of Lady Margaret Hoby, kept between 1599 and 1605. Immediately the validity of value-judgments about “interest” or appropriateness are themselves called into question, given my prefatory quotes from Certeau and Deleuze, further destabilizing what I hope to present as some form of argument. Such a move is underpinned by a heterological perspective of interpretative practice, heterology briefly defined is ‘the introduction of alterity into familiar spaces’ (Ahearne 67). Certeau’s heterological framework, the contiguous deployment of familiar interpretative, spatial and textual models and their ‘others’, provides for myself, as for Margaret Hoby, spaces of autonomy and self-determination within notionally prescriptive conceptual and physical environments. By deploying Certeau’s self-reflexive interpretative models against an ambivalent historical text it becomes apparent that the unstable perspectivism arising from an individually inflected Certalian hermeneutics reads the diary according to a particular set of interpretative, textual, and historical logics. Of particular interest here is the interaction between Certeau’s subversive reading practices and a text whose authority is at best uncertain – the diary in its incipient phase.

Paul Lobban completed his PhD at the University of Adelaide. His thesis focussed on domestic (diaries, letters) and prophetical writing by English women during the early modern period.

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