Date of Graduation

Spring 2023


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

Matthew Calihman


The twenty-first century, marked by neoliberalism and suspicious, visibly violent far-Right politics, has presented new challenges to critical and literary theorists. In response, some theorists advocate for a postcritical turn, challenging both the surface/depth picture of language and the privileged status of suspicion in interpretation in order to explore alternative pictures of language and reading that can better address the challenges of our own day. In this thesis, I connect one of these alternatives, Toril Moi’s use of Ordinary Language Philosophy in literary studies, to Wendell Berry’s prioritization of place in environmentalist activism. In connecting these two thinkers, I contend for ordinary placed reading, or a practice of reading that interprets literature according to the way it intervenes in the critic’s own place of residence, in the natural, social, and agricultural realms. I then analyze Berry’s novel Jayber Crow in order to illustrate how his protagonist, Jayber, exemplifies this mode of reading in his shift from displaced, suspicious reader to a reader embedded in his place and interpreting historical and technological developments according to its consequences for his placed community.


American literature, regionalism, Wendell Berry, postcritique, ordinary language philosophy and literary studies

Subject Categories

American Literature | Literature in English, North America


© Calvin L. Coon

Open Access