Reading Before the Law: Melville's 'Bartleby' and Asylum Seeker Narratives

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Abstract / Description of output

This chapter situates readings of asylum seeker poetry and debates surrounding recent asylum UK legislation, alongside the acts of refusal depicted in Herman Melville’s ‘Bartleby’ (1853), in order to consider the ethical relationship between reading and hospitality. Both the asylum seeker and Melville’s protagonist present figures of undecidablility which resonate with J. Hillis Miller’s notion of reading as parasitic, occurring at the threshold of what is decidable and undecidable. This chapter argues that reading ‘Bartleby’ in relation to narratives of asylum opens up the question of what constitutes a responsible postcolonial response to literary and non-literary narratives of asylum.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPostcolonial Audiences: Readers, Viewers and Reception
EditorsJames Procter, Gemma Robinson, Bethan Benwell
Place of PublicationNew York & Oxon
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-203-12616-5
ISBN (Print)978-0-415-88871-4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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