Feeling Ulysses: An Address to the Cyclopean Reader

Vicki Mahaffey, Wendy J. Truran

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter challenges approaches to reading that rely on “scopic dominance” (here referred to as Cyclopean) and suggests that Ulysses, in particular, rewards readers who feel with, through, and about bodies—human and textual. The chapter proposes an approach to reading that produces an affective: one that moves us and that we move, one that we encounter with our living bodies. The sense modalities of sight and touch are used to illustrate Joyce’s broader approach to senses, perception, and epistemological questions more broadly. To read Ulysses “feelingly” is to engage the senses together with the emotions in the act of reading. Such readings cultivate a multi-perspectival proximity to the content, context, and language of the work. Affect theory provides a useful way of reconceiving the reading self: as porous, responsive, and part of an ever-unfolding process of being in relation with the world. This essay stages an encounter between text and reader that is designed to show readers how to feel their way through the text in a way that allows reading to become more reciprocal or mutual. The value of such an approach is that it makes it easier for a reader to be touched, and perhaps altered, in return.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationJoyce's Ulysses
Subtitle of host publicationPhilosophical Perspectives
EditorsPhilip Kitcher
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780190842291
ISBN (Print)9780190842260
StatePublished - Jul 23 2020


  • affect
  • Ulysses
  • touch
  • sight
  • sensorium
  • sense
  • philosophy
  • perspective
  • pedagogy
  • ocularcentrism
  • modernism
  • literature
  • James Joyce
  • intimacy
  • feeling
  • emotion
  • embodiment
  • death
  • Cyclops
  • corporeal
  • blindness
  • affective reading
  • affect theory


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