A Companion to Comparative Literature

A Companion to Comparative Literature

A Companion to Comparative Literature

A Companion to Comparative Literature

Synopsis

A Companion to Comparative Literature presents a collection of more than thirty original essays from established and emerging scholars, which explore the history, current state, and future of comparative literature.
  • Features over thirty original essays from leading international contributors
  • Provides a critical assessment of the status of literary and cross-cultural inquiry
  • Addresses the history, current state, and future of comparative literature
  • Chapters address such topics as the relationship between translation and transnationalism, literary theory and emerging media, the future of national literatures in an era of globalization, gender and cultural formation across time, East-West cultural encounters, postcolonial and diaspora studies, and other experimental approaches to literature and culture

Excerpt

In “The Crisis of Comparative Literature,” the distinguished scholar of Comparative Literature René Wellek wrote “The most serious sign of the precarious state of our study is the fact that it has not been able to establish a distinct subject matter and a specific methodology” (Wellek, 1963: p. 282). That nearly over fifty years later, the same can be said of the state of a discipline that has grown to over fifty departments and programs worldwide (see http://www.swan.ac.uk/german/bcla/clusa.htm) underscores not only the timeliness of this volume, but also the precarious and plural nature of the discipline itself, a discipline which defines itself as an inter -disciplinary, crosscultural, and trans-national endeavor. Comparative Literature occupies a distinct and unique position in the humanities. Despite the small size of most departments and programs, the discipline typically plays a central role as a clearing-house of ideas not simply for other literary departments on university campuses but across the humanities and humanistic social sciences. Indeed, with student interest in the traditional national literatures rapidly declining as evidenced by a shrinking number of majors, the field of Comparative Literature is quickly emerging as the natural site around which to organize modern language and literary studies.

Perhaps more significantly, as Haun Saussy points out, “The premises and protocols characteristic of our discipline [i.e. Comparative Literature] are now the daily currency of coursework, publishing, hiring and coffee-shop discussion” (Saussy, 2006: p. 3). In recent years, not only has the idea of world literature gained a great deal of currency among national literature departments, but theoretical and interdisciplinary approaches to literature have taken institutional forms. Indeed, as Tobin Siebers had predicted almost two decades ago, “everyone is becoming a comparatist of a kind” (Siebers, 1995: p. 196), though contrary to his prediction, far from a dying discipline . . .

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