Professor Eric Méchoulan is a Visiting Fellow in Lent Term 2016.
“O friendly reader, you who read these words, look kindly on them and on their writer!” Such anxious entreaties can often be heard in early modern texts across European languages, and anyone who writes will understand why: how do writers address those of whom they know nothing? How do they shape a bond with the reader such that the reader takes up their cause? This strange and affectively charged hope is one I trace in my project The Friendly Reader, which pursues this longed-for figure across five centuries and three languages (Latin, French and English). I argue that following the friendly reader allows us a new perspective not only on the history of print culture and literature but more broadly on the history of social emotions, and on the politics of address and community we have inherited as readers today.
After a Junior Research Fellowship at King's College, Cambridge, I have been Professor of French Literature at the Université de Montréal since 1995. I was also the program director at the Collège International de Philosophie (Paris). My recent books are La Crise (du discours) économique: travail immatériel et émancipation, Nota Bene, 2011; D'òu nous viennent nos idées? Métaphysique et intermédialité, VLB Éditeur, 2010; La culture de la mémoire, ou comment se débarasser du passé? Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 2008; Le livre avalé: de la littérature entre mémoire et culture (XVIe-XVIIIe siècle), Presses de l'Université de Montréal 2004; Pour une histoire esthétique de la littérature, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 2004. I also organised a special issue of the American journal Substance entitled: Impact Boom. The Commodification of the University, Substance, no. 130, Spring 2013.