Call for papers: World Literatures from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-first Century. Ed. Marko Juvan. Special issue CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 15.5 (December 2013)

Country: 
USA
Production: 
Purdue University Press, Institute of Slovenian Literature and Literary Studies
Closing date for submissions: 
31 December, 2012
E-mail contact: 

Call for papers: World Literatures from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-first Century. Ed. Marko Juvan. Special issue CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 15.5 (December 2013): http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/clcweb . Deadline of submission is 31 December 2012 to Marko Juvan at . Papers are minimum 6000 words and maximum 7000 words in the style of the journal http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/clcweblibrary/clcwebstyleguide. In every national literature or region, or in today's multicultural societies, different concepts and/or practices of "world literature" exist(ed). Contributors to the special issue (re)examine the concept of world literature as proposed by Goethe and similar concepts and practices which occurred later and address the following issues: mappings of world literature in different literary systems; the development of the notion of world literature in literary periodicals, reviews, learned journals, encyclopedias, anthologies, book series, and on the world wide web in digital humanities, etc.; intertextual references to and rewritings of world literature in the canonized texts of national revivals; the concept and practices of world literature in modernism, postmodernism, and postcolonialism; the development of world literature canons in curricula of education; the presence of peripheral or semi-peripheral "top authors" outside their own (source) culture: their translation and reception in neighboring countries and regions (i.e., interliterary communities, literary centrism) and their inclusion in the canons of world literature in literary systems and major world languages. Articles published in CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture are indexed in the Thomson-Reuters ISI Arts and Humanities Citation Index.

***

Marko Juvan

World Literatures from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-first Century

 

The "travelling concept" (Bal) of world literature, however global and topical it may seem, proves to be but a locally specific European invention (see, e.g., Damrosch; D'haen; D'haen, Damrosch, Kadir; Ďurišin; Koch; Pizer; Strich). After less known coinage of the term Weltliteratur by August Ludwig von Schlözer in 1773 (Schamoni), it was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who launched the notion in an 1827 article on Duval’s Le Tasse. During the last years of his life in a semi-peripheral Weimar which he strove to refashion into a German and European cultural capital, Goethe kept using the expression "world literature" to refer to what appeared to him as an emerging, specifically modern phenomenon: the dawning of an international cultural market; the rapid growth of transport technologies which enable the dynamic inter-lingual and cross-cultural circulation of books, literary works, ideas, forms, themes, and representations; and last but not least a transnational networking of cosmopolitan writers and intellectuals striving for a common cause of the "generally human" (see Eckermann 164-67; Strich 349-51). Such a respublica litterarum had been evolving among humanist intellectuals ever since the fifteenth century, whereas intra-European and inter-continental cultural traffic — e.g., the circulation, exchange, and collecting of manuscripts, books, or "exotic" objects — had been taking place along trade routes from the antiquity through the middle ages to the early modern age (see, e.g., Buescu; Burke).

Following Johann Gottfried von Herder's and Wilhelm von Humboldt's praise of culturally diversity and equality of different linguistic expressions (Koch 89-143), Goethe's notion of world literature was an attempt to harmonize universal claims with national concerns. On the one hand, the concept was grounded in the post-Enlightenment humanist and cosmopolitan belief that individual experiences articulated through culturally specific life-worlds are mutually translatable and understandable because of the "generally human" as their spiritual invariant or aesthetic common denominator. On the other hand, however, world literature has been locally perspectivized from the very beginning. Goethe articulated the notion of Weltliteratur in the context of and with regard to a politically and economically fragmented Germany (which lacked its own metropolis and figured as one of the European semi-peripheries). He employed this concept as a strategy of infusing his view of seemingly parochial and belated national literature with world wide resources and universal aesthetic norms and thus aiming to establish German-language letters as a globally important mediator of cross-cultural communication and a nodal point of transnational networks of literati, as well as an active player on the international literary scene and contributor to a literary repertoire which transcends temporal, linguistic, ethnic, and other boundaries. From this it may be concluded that, in essence, Goethe's perspective on world literature resulted from the post-Enlightenment processes of aesthetic autonomization, individualization, and the nationalization of European literary fields. The term itself, being a hybrid of cosmopolitan, nationalist, and aesthetic ideologemes, was shaped in a turbulent context characterized by the declining authority of the Greco-Latin classical canon, the restoration of inter-state politics after Napoleonic wars, the beginnings of European nationalisms, and the global growth of the capitalist market. The emergence of the world literature concept remained inscribed in the word's semantic memory that — implicitly or explicitly — continued to influence its subsequent world wide diffusion and manifold local appropriations and interpretations thus inducing its users to perceive the global literary landscape from their particular perspectives including specific needs of cultural fields to which they felt to belong.

Although Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, influenced by Goethe's idea through Heinrich Heine, in their 1848 Communist Manifesto also declared that world literature was marking the advent of a new historical epoch, Goethe's parallel between the economic and cultural globalization, with their transnational social networking and circulation of goods, remained almost forgotten until the end of World War II. Since the second half of the nineteenth century it has been largely overshadowed either by anti-cosmopolitan and increasingly chauvinist cultural nationalism that advocated the autochthonous character of individual national literatures or by the value-laden notion of world literature as the universal (Western) canon. The canon of world literature was reserved for masterpieces which, once selected from among the best national literary classics and translated into major (Western) languages, figure as the everlasting cultural heritage of humanity. Both developments — the former dominating in Europe and the latter in the U.S. — were conditioned by particularistic, even parochial Euro- or Occidentocentric perspectives: the canon of world literature overlapped primarily with European or Western traditions on which different national literatures sought to ground their identity. Such a canon included only few exemplary additions of — mostly pre-modern — writings from the global East and South.

Since the turn of the twenty-first century globalization, postcolonialism, and multiculturalism with its "culture wars," as well as the so-called global war on terror and the crisis of the neo-liberal world economic order have rediscovered the original Goethean and Marxian notions of world literature stressing its complex dynamics, fluidity, antagonism of power, and asymmetrical distribution of cultural capital. From the point of view of the current world wide renaissance of Goethean ideas of transcultural traffic, the circulation of literary goods, and the transnational networking of literary producers, mediators, publishers, readership, and scholars and critics it might seem surprising to find the beginnings of pluralist and de-centered notions of world literature in the above mentioned Occidentocentric and value-laden paradigm of world literature as the canon of "great books." Richard G. Moulton — writing in 1911 — in his effort to cultivate US-American undergraduates by providing them with the essentials of Hellenic and Hebraic civilizations which he regarded as fundaments of Anglo-American culture, underscored the "English point of view." As indicated by the subtitle of his 1913 book, Richard Meyer wrote about twentieth-century world literature "from a German perspective" and in 1949 Fritz Strich stressed that Goethe conceived of world literature "from the point of view of German literature … the little world system, the microcosmos Weimar" (51). For our contemporary John Pizer world literature "presupposes a specific national perspective" and thus "conjures inevitably different visions, and will inspire quite different canons, in China, France, England, and Japan" (89-90). Further, one of the assumptions of Mads Rosendahl Thomsen's book on "shifting focal points in the international canons" is that "world literature . . . will always be a world literature as seen from a particular place" (1, 33-60). In my view, "the literary world system is therefore a complex topology, which is cognitively and creatively accessible only through the archives of localized cultural memory and singular cognitive or linguistic perspectives. They show world literature as a set of variant corpora, representations, inspirations, and classifications. World literature is being constantly translated and presented in manifold localized inscriptions, which are the subject of reflection and reworking in different semiospheres. . . . Any literature or literary history sees world literature through the lenses of how they perceive their position within the global literary system" (86). And Ning Wang also argues in 2011 for a pluralist conception of "world literatures," claiming that "world literature is represented in different languages" so that "there is no such thing as the singular form of world literature" (296-98). However, no systematic comparative research has been carried out so far which focuses on the pluralist notion of world literature as an always already perspectivized and dynamic global system.

The title World Literatures from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-first Century signals that, up to the present, every national literature, region, migration, and multicultural space has developed its own version of world literature. Therefore, world literature exists as a dynamic, glocalized, and complex network. Contributors to the volume explore and compare the history and the present of mappings of world literature in different literary systems and their particular shaping of global canons. Contributors are invited to examine intertextual references to world literature during national revivals (in Europe mainly during romanticism), cosmopolitan modernism, and in the present-day literary writings of the postmodernist, multi- and intercultural, transnational, or postcolonial condition. The aim of the volume is to ascertain how particular literary systems, which geoculturally incline to either centrality or peripherality, positioned themselves in the world literary system (on this, see, e.g., Casanova; Moretti) and what was the role of a localized world literature in the identity and literary systems' formation across the globe.

Contributors to World Literatures from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-first Century (re)examine the concept of world literature as proposed by Goethe and similar concepts and practices which occurred later and address the following issues: mappings of world literature in different literary systems; the development of the notion of world literature in literary periodicals, reviews, learned journals, encyclopedias, anthologies, book series, etc.; intertextual references to and rewritings of world literature in the canonized texts of national revivals; the concept and practices of world literature in modernism, postmodernism, and postcolonialism; the development of world literature canons in curricula of education; the presence of peripheral or semi-peripheral "top authors" outside their own (source) culture: their translation and reception in neighboring countries and regions (i.e., interliterary communities, literary centrism) and their inclusion in the canons of world literature in other literary systems and major world languages.

 

Works Cited

 

Bal, Mieke. Travelling Concepts in the Humanities: A Rough Guide. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2002.

Buescu, Helena Carvalhão. "Pascale Casanova and the Republic of Letters." The Routledge Companion to World Literature. Ed. Theo D'haen, David Damrosch, and Djelal Kadir. London: Routledge, 2011. 126-35.

Burke, Peter. A Social History of Knowledge: From Gutenberg to Diderot. Cambridge: Polity P, 2000.

Casanova, Pascale. The World Republic of Letters. 1999. Trans. M.B. DeBevoise. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2007.

D'haen, Theo. The Routledge Concise History of World Literature. London: Routledge, 2011.

D'haen, Theo, David Damrosch, and Djelal Kadir, eds. The Routledge Companion to World Literature. London: Routledge, 2011.

Damrosch, David: What Is World Literature? Princeton: Princeton UP, 2003.

Ďurišin, Dionýz. Čo je svetová literatúra? (What Is World Literature?). Bratislava: Obzor, 1992.

Eckermann, Johann Peter. Conversations of Goethe with Johann Peter Eckermann. 1836. Trans. John Oxenford. Cambridge: Da Capo P, 1998.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. "Le Tasse, drame historique en cinq actes, par M. Alexander Duval." (Über Kunst und Altertum, Vol. 6, part I, 1827) Goethes sämtliche Werke. By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Ed. Anne Bohnenkamp. Ästhetische Schriften V, 1824–1832. 1. Abteilung, Band 22. Frankfurt: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1999. 356.

Juvan, Marko. "World Literature(s) and Peripheries." Literary Studies in Reconstruction: An Introduction to Literature. By Marko Juvan. Bern: Peter Lang, 2011. 73-86.

Koch, Manfred. Weimaraner Weltbewohner. Zur Genese von Goethes Begriff "Weltliteratur." Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2002.

Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. Trans. Samuel Moore. London: Verso.

Meyer, Richard. Die Weltliteratur im 20. Jahrhundert. Vom deutschen Standpunkt aus betrachtet. Stuttgart: DVA, 1913.

Moretti, Franco. "Conjectures on World Literature." New Left Review 1 (2000): 54-86.

Moulton, Richard G. World Literature and Its Place in General Culture. New York: Macmillan, 1911.

Pizer, John. The Idea of World Literature: History and Pedagogical Practice. Baton Rouge: Louisiana UP, 2006.

Schamoni, Wolfgang. "'Weltliteratur' – zuerst 1773 bei August Ludwig Schlözer." Arcadia 43.2 (2008): 288–98.

Schlözer, August Wilhelm. Isländische Literatur und Geschichte. Erster Teil. Göttingen: Johann Christian Dieterich, 1773.

Strich, Fritz. Goethe and World Literature. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1949.

Thomsen, Mads Rosendahl. Mapping World Literature: International Canonization and Transnational Literatures. London: Continuum, 2008.

Wang, Ning. '''Weltliteratur': From a Utopian Imagination to Diversified Forms of World Literatures." Comparative Literature: Toward a (Re)construction of World Literature. Ed. Ning Wang. Thematic issue Neohelicon: acta comparationis litterarum universarum 38.2 (2011): 295-306.

 

 

AttachmentSize
clcweb_wl_cfp_long.doc46.5 KB