This is the home web page for Peter Brooks’ The Ethics of Reading and the Cultures of Professionalism series of seminars and lectures at Princeton University, sponsored by The University Center for Human Values, the Department of Comparative Literature and The Law and Public Affairs Program in the Woodrow Wilson School, and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Distinguished Achievement Award.
This three year series explores what the interpretive humanities—specifically a certain tradition of attentive or close reading—may offer to those engaged in the cultures and discourses of professionalism and professional education in the fields of law, religion, architecture and urbanism, among others. The program takes its inspiration from the conviction that the study of poetry, broadly defined— and the study of what we are doing and learning when we attend closely to textual language—is a form of knowledge crucially important in the world now. Learning to read and interpret rigorously, with a sense of textual constraint as well as imaginative potential, should be —and, rightly conducted, usually is—an ethical project.
The program consists of seminars and lectures designed to bring faculty and graduate students from different fields together to read a small corpus of assigned texts, and to discuss and analyze more broadly the role of reading and interpretation in their respective fields. The overarching question informing the program’s offerings is how the practice of reading closely, critically, creatively and, ultimately, responsibly intersects with the rhetoric and cultures of professionalism.