Cover image for Protocols of reading
Protocols of reading
Scholes, Robert, 1929-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [1989]

Physical Description:
xi, 164 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
Z1003 .S3947 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Discussing a wide range of literary theory in a clear and accessible way, prize-winning author Robert Scholes here continues his ongoing construction of a humane semiotic approach to the problems of reading, writing, and teaching. Taking the view that 'all the world's a text, ' Scholes considers numerous texts from life and literature, including photographs, paintings, and television commercials as well as biographies and novels.

Author Notes

Robert Scholes is Research Professor of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. He is the author of many books of literary theory.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Scholes's new book is a series of associatively linked arguments and examples that, in a variety of ways, point to the necessary but impossible task of determining "the protocols of reading," which is his idiom, derived from Derrida, for the inescapable network of ethical-political demands that weigh upon every experience of reading. These protocols are precisely what resist theory and analysis even as they determine the concrete particularity that underlies all of our theoretical deductions. There are serious problems in Scholes's argument--above all, his implicit privileging of reading vis-a-vis other kinds of experience, and his assumption of the validity of the theory/practice distinction. What is missing is a theory of mimesis, or an attempt at a theory of mimesis that might explain how it is that certain human concerns constitute the medium in which reading occurs, in which we imitate certain kinds of behavior and exclude other kinds. These problems are largely offset by Scholes's rhetorical skill at adducing a wide range of examples to demonstrate the situatedness of reading. His careful discussion of the necessary instability of the terms "code" and "rigor" in some of Derrida's texts is most valuable, as is his struggle to think through the relation of ethics to reading in the context of Hillis Miller's recent work. Scholes's advocacy of an act of reading that resists both the false comfort of hermeneutic resolution and the facile sublimity of nihilism is a significant and thoughtful effort to think about the responsibilities of reading in the wake of deconstruction. Levels: graduate and upper-division undergraduate. -N. Lukacher, University of Illinois at Chicago