This article explores three reasons why literary scholars have been slow to engage with both the New Mobilities Paradigm and the New Mobilities Studies promoted by Transfers, namely: (1) the residual conservatism of “English studies”; (2) the sort of textual practice associated with “literary criticism” (where the text remains the primary object of study); and (3), the tension between the humanist and/or “subject-centered” nature of most literary scholarship and the posthumanist approaches of mobilities scholars based in the social sciences and other humanities subjects. However, the close reading of literary and other texts has much to contribute to mobilities studies including insight into the temporalities—both personal and social—that shape our long-term understanding of contemporary events such as the current pandemic.
Lynne Pearce is based at Lancaster University (UK) where she is Professor of Literary and Cultural Theory in the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing and Director for the Humanities at CeMoRe (Centre for Mobilities Research). Her most recent books in the mobilities field are Drivetime: Literary Excursions in Automotive Consciousness (Edinburgh University Press, 2016) and Mobility, Memory and the Lifecourse in Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture (Palgrave, 2019). Email: L.Pearce@lancaster.ac.uk