Common sense tells us that to read a piece of literature is first and foremost of an act of pleasure (Compagnon 1998), and thus that in order to rehabilitate reading practices we would have to recover and renew the “plaisir du texte” (Barthes 1973), as well as the pleasures of reading broadly speaking. The ludic, ironic and citational nature of contemporary fiction, which puts us into playful dialogue with “an external reality that is always already literary and which exists for the sake of the reader” (Demoulin 1997: 11), does not necessarily diminish the pleasure of reading, but rather transforms and complicates it.
On the other hand, in an era conspicuously marked by the internet and social media, one notices the development of new ways of reading, prompted by the appearance of new media, which foster a collaborative approach to writing, new forms of interactivity and sociability and, consequently, different ways of sharing with others the pleasures one derives from books.
Nicolas Ancion identifies different ways of reading literary texts: reading for pleasure, that is, recognizing and recreating the pre-existent and indefinite meaning of the text (criticism, reviews and research), reading as a duty (the academic institution) and reading for fun (the act of reading is more important than what is read, cf. Pennac 1992). Moreover, between pleasure and fun, we find a whole gamut of sensations (states) related to the act of reading and its particular individual and personal modalities, as well as the various reading media which one ought to consider and which may entail an unconfessed or unspeakable kind of reading (Bayard 2007).
Interlanguage translation, particularly in the European context, as well as intersemiotic and intermedial translation, disseminate and amplify that renewed pleasure of interdisciplinary literary reading, and make possible alternative modes of transmission, navigation and contamination (media, cinema, cartoons, etc.) (Müller 2006, Badir & Roelens 2007).
Especially since the advent of digital media, not only the hedonistic aspect of the literary text is enhanced and redefined but also its intersemiotic, interartistic and interdisciplinary qualities, allowing us to (or even demanding that we) read / see / hear more, and projecting the text out into the world, making it possible to apprehend it in new ways. As such, reading is tied to new forms of sociability and community, both conventional and digital, fostering the dissemination of reading practices, new forms that generate new and varied relations with literary texts, their authors and the critical-editorial sphere.
In light of the preceding, we would like to invite researchers with an interest in the pleasures and practices of reading in present-day Europe to make an oral presentation (20 minutes) or propose a workshop (1h30min) about one of the following topics:
- The pleasures of reading in the European context;
- National and international policies that seek to promote reading in today’s Europe;
- Translation and the promotion of reading of/in Europe;
- Reading differently: digital, intersemiotic and intermedial approaches;
- Reading across the life span (stages of reading);
- New communities of readers and forms of sociability.