Creative Reading in the Information Age: Paradoxes of Close and Distant Reading

Inge van de Ven*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This article reflects on transformations of modes of reading in an information age, asking what "creative reading" entails in information-intensive, multimodal environments. We currently face the challenge of the development of reading strategies that oscillate between "close" and "distant" reading. For years, these reading strategies have been a topic of debate between practitioners of Digital Humanities on the one hand, and "traditional" humanists on the other. This ongoing polemics presents reading methods in an unnecessarily polarized manner. I argue that creativity research can be operationalized to come to a more productive model to characterize the ways we read in an information age. I show that the "schism" between close and distant reading is structured around a number of apparent paradoxes that I unravel such as hyper- and deep attention/attention and distraction, and convergence and divergence. The paradox of creativity resides in the fact that we find convergence in divergence and vice versa, that the two by definition intertwine. Building on these concepts, I propose a model that considers reading in terms of scale variance. I suggest the humanities turn to creativity research and the interrelations between divergent-exploratory and convergent-integrative thinking (Lubart), for a conceptual framework that will allow us to train students on all levels how to read (and how and when not to read), in an information age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-164
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of Creative Behavior
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • creativity
  • reading
  • digital humanities
  • information
  • attention
  • convergence
  • divergence


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