Affect Theory in Reading Research: Imagining the Radical Difference

Gail Boldt, Kevin M. Leander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Working through four key tenets of Deleuze–Guattarian theory, the authors describe how contemporary affect theory offers a radically different perspective on reading. Asking how we can conceptualize reading differently if we conceptualize affect differently, we argue that possible meanings of reading or experiences of reading must be considered not as inherent to internal experiences of reading but as composed and recomposed in sets of affective relations. Using an example of two children reading, we consider how reading, as a material doing, takes up and is taken up by bodies, materials, spaces, histories, feelings, and ideas. To consider affect as the property of sets of present relations rather than of the individual prompts us to consider how the various elements assemble and break apart to produce intensities in which reading participates. Deprivileging human intentionality or motivations, we ask, “In a given instance, what conditions of possibility are being produced and for whom, and how are participants taking up or being moved by those conditions?” We conclude with suggestions for how contemporary affect theory can reorient our understanding of reading research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalReading Psychology
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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