Mahindra Humanities History of the Book "Gleaning" with Juliet Fleming


Monday, November 7, 2016, 5:00pm


Barker Center, Rm. 133, 12 Quincy Street, Cambridge


History of the Book

Juliet Fleming, New York University



In a late essay Heidegger used the figure of gleaning to describe the contemplative experience of reading: "Lego, legein, Latin legere, is the same word as our lesen [to collect]: gleaning, collecting wood, harvesting grapes, making a selection, 'reading [lesen] a book' is just a variant of 'gathering' in the authentic sense [‘ein Buch lesen’ is nur ein Abort des ‘Lesens’ in eigentlichen Sinne.] This means laying one thing next to another, bringing them together as one [in eines Zusammenbringen] – in short, gathering [Sammeln]; but at the same time, the one is contrasted to the other" (IM. 131; EidM. 118).

This talk will attend to the interest of Heidegger's figure, while noting that it bleaches out the elaborated specificities of gleaning as a practice with charitable sanction that survived in the farmlands of Europe into the twentieth century: "And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of the field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor and the stranger" (Leviticus 23:22). By confronting Heidegger's use of the term "lesen/gleaning" with its own, longer, political history, I hope to shake loose some more charitable and practical thoughts about what it means to read.

Cosponsored by the Renaissance Studies Graduate Colloquium.