Journal Article

OUT OF THE NON-READING GAOL: VALENTINE CUNNINGHAM, HELEN KELLER, AND HERMENEUTIC FREEDOM

Kevin Mills

in Literature and Theology

Volume 11, issue 3, pages 254-269
Published in print September 1997 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online September 1997 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/11.3.254
OUT OF THE NON-READING GAOL: VALENTINE CUNNINGHAM, HELEN KELLER, AND HERMENEUTIC FREEDOM

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This paper sets out to question contemporary notions of language which employ metaphors of imprisonment or confinement to describe the alleged failure of the word to connect with the world Valentine Cunningham's recent book. In the Reading Goal, is confronted with Helen Keller's experience of being excluded from language (as described in her autobiography), in order to argue that the issue of hermeneutic freedom needs to be rethought. This involves raising certain doubts about freedom—doubts identified by means of a consideration of the cases of New Testament prisoners: Peter, John, Paul and silas. I conclude that freedom, confronted by doubt (evident in ascetical gestures) is produced by a hermeneutics of hope Hope, constituted by its own rivenness, both allows and llimits effects of hermeneutical suspicion. The imprisoning effect ascribed to language can then be seen as a failure with regard to hope.

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Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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