Reading (with) Bateman: Mapping Potentiality of/in Reading




Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho, Reparative Reading, Affect, Roland Barthes, Boredom, Potentiality


Starting from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s critique of paranoid reading and her call for reparative reading, this article proposes two experimental readings of Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho“ (1991). Drawing on the writings of Roland Barthes and Eugenie Brinkema, we consider the text’s affective possibilities and potentialities as well as moments when it may surprise its readers, in order to ask what a reparative reading can look like in the case of American Psycho“. First, we read the novel for its potentialities of different affective modes—in this case, boredom and disgust—by looking closely at its syntactic structure. Second, we impose formal constraints on our reading itself, reading the novel as if it was a comedy. Through these modes of reading, our approach opens up new possibilities for parallel interpretations, instead of positing another master reading of the text.

Author Biographies

Maria Wiegel, University of Cologne

Maria Wiegel is a PhD candidate in North American Studies at the University of Cologne. Her current research focuses on the depiction of the 1960s in American literature published after 9/11. She is especially interested in paranoia, surveillance, cultural memory studies, and metamodernism. Her writings and reports have appeared in Critical Intertexts“, Food, Fatness and Fitness“ and HSozKult“, zeitgeschichteonline“, the Journal of the History of Ideas Blog“, and the collective volume Encountering Pennywise: Critical Perspectives on Stephen King’s IT“.

Alexander Rüter, University of Cologne

Alexander Rüter will be a PhD candidate in North American Studies at the University of Cologne starting April 2023. His research focusses on the pluralistic ecologies in the work of Karen Tei Yamashita. The wider perimeter of his research interests includes East Asian American literature and culture, transpacific American studies as well as the theories and poetics of crisis. His writing has previously appeared in Ecozon@: European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment“.




How to Cite

Wiegel, Maria, and Alexander Rüter. “Reading (with) Bateman: Mapping Potentiality of In Reading”. Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies, vol. 23, no. 2, Apr. 2023, pp. 30-42, doi:10.5283/copas.370.