Ika Willis, 'Reception All The Way Down'

Abstract: Reception study is often seen as peripheral to the business of literary studies, looking away from the text itself in order to investigate the contingent, unpredictable, and unruly activities of real-life readers – more properly, perhaps, the domain of sociology, ethnography, or cultural studies. In this paper, Dr Willis argues that, to the contrary, reception and literary studies are coextensive. As signifying structures, texts cannot be considered in isolation from the processes of signification through which they are produced and circulated, or from the networks and media of communication through which they are received by readers. It is harder than we often credit to draw a boundary between the ‘text itself’ and its reception: as the Biblical reception scholar Brendan Breed puts it, it is ‘reception all the way down’.

Bio: Associate Professor Ika Willis is currently Discipline Leader in English Literatures at the University of Wollongong, where she arrived in 2013 after seven years as Lecturer in Reception at the University of Bristol. At Bristol, she designed and convened the interdisciplinary MA in Reception and Critical Theory from 2007-2011. Her first book, Now and Rome, reads the works of Lucan and Vergil in relation to five twentieth-century critical theorists including Jacques Derrida; her most recent book is Reception in Routledge’s New Critical Idiom series (2018). She is the founder of the Australian Reception Network.

Organisers: Karolina Watroba, Colton Valentine, Max Norman


*Please note that this event is free and open to all but places are limited*