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date: 05 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter offers a critical paradigm for reading Ruth through the lens of “narrative desire.” An interdisciplinary method bringing together insights from narratology, psychoanalytic theory, philosophical studies, and queer theory, narrative desire provides a versatile approach to indeterminate texts, highlighting the erotic interplay between a narrative’s form and content and the reader’s response. By playing on readers’ desires for a fulfilling and resolute climax, Ruth often seduces readers into what Peter Brooks terms “the male plot of ambition.” From this perspective, women and other minority characters are rendered utilitarian disruptions in an otherwise male, Israelite story. An alternative strategy of “reading for the middle” encourages readers to reconsider the temporal and spatial dynamics of the narrative in order to resist restrictive forms of emplotment. As one lingers in the “dilatory” spaces of the middle, hidden desires are exposed and emancipatory possibilities are revealed.

Keywords: narrative, Ruth, narrative desire, indeterminacy, plot, reading for the middle, narrative time, narrative space

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