This article advocates reading for moods, moments in literary texts that draw attention to textual forms conditioning the experiential parameters of narrative. Drawing from Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht’s reception aesthetics, I demonstrate how the normative critical history of Charles Dickens’s 1850 novel David Copperfield is a product of the novel’s delimitation of its horizons of expectation and structuration of contingency. I then link these delimited horizons to the accepted austerity politics of academic labor today.

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