Close Reading and Media Ecologies

Alex Reid talks about the meaning of close reading as used in English Studies and the difficulty of defining it. He writes:

It’s really founded on the premise that interpretation and hence the meaning of the text is to be found/made in the careful consideration of word choices, style, specific sentences, and so on. A good amount of contemporary close reading is connected with what some call symptomatic interpretation (following on Fredric Jameson), which basically means that one views the text as a symptom of a larger cultural issue. As a result, close readings–in both literary studies and rhetoric–tend to move from quoting specific passages out of extensive texts to making fairly large arguments about race, gender, class, sexuality, and so on.

He moves on from there to discuss how this type of close reading cannot handle the “massive flows of data” and information we now read or collect. There’s a need to develop new “rhetorical and aesthetic practices” and ask,

“What new rhetorical capacities emerge through our relations with emerging media ecologies?