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  • Introduction: Comparative Literature beyond Eurocentrism

    Author:Zhang Longxi, Omid Azadibougar

    Abstract: This introductory essay discusses the Eurocentrism of Comparative Literature and argues that as an effect of the structures of the modern humanities, the study of non-European literatures has been mostly consigned to area studies and not literary studies departments at universities. Therefore, despite the efforts to overcome this condition of the field, including the rise of World Literature since the turn of the 21st century, scholarship has reproduced the status quo to the extent that World Literature also remains a largely Eurocentric project. We argue that revisionist efforts have so far operated within the European theoretical space and referred to a limited number of languages. The essays collected in the present issue address this problem and propose diverse solutions for overcoming the Eurocentrism of the discipline.

    Vol. 6 No. 1 June 2022      Time:2022-06-20 View Citation

  • Comparativism or What We Talk about When We Talk about Comparing

    Author:Ben Hutchinson

    Abstract: In this essay, I suggest that the study of comparative literature is subject to the same distorting pressures as the study of the Orient. "Comparativism," as I call it, is like orientalism: both a description and a distortion. Constructing its critique in the process of comparing, it inherits deep foundations of historical, cultural, and geographical prejudgment. As with Said's orientalism, the cornerstone of this construction is West-Eastern (and North-Southern) paternalism, but it is far from the only building block: other obstacles include predetermined views of genre, medium, and even language. There is little, in fact, that is not grist to the will of Western-educated critics....

    Vol. 6 No. 1 June 2022      Time:2022-06-20 View Citation

  • North-South Comparatism: New Worldism, Theories of Lack and Acclimatization

    Author:José Luís Jobim

    Abstract: In this essay I will use the expression New Worldism to refer to a particular representation of the New World, developed in Europe. I will take some theories related to this expression (theories of lack and acclimatization) to provide a short introduction to them, taking into special consideration their connection to comparatism as it was developed in 19th-century Brazil.

    Vol. 6 No. 1 June 2022      Time:2022-06-20 View Citation

  • Comparative Mobilities

    Author:Ali Behdad, Dominic Thomas

    Abstract: This essay explores recent incursions into comparative modalities and highlights how global comparative literature better reflects the ways in which borders and mobility have become defining elements of the 21st century. However, the humanities remain under attack. Recent openings towards decolonizing the curriculum and strengthening synergies between various social justice approaches may prove fruitful in coordinating defenses. Today, economic and historical circumstances are such that it has become increasingly hard to think of literary traditions in monolithic terms since globalization has dramatically transformed the circulation of literary works. In our understanding, a comparativist is not necessarily invested either in demonstrating the intrinsic connections between cultural or...

    Vol. 6 No. 1 June 2022      Time:2022-06-20 View Citation

  • Contrapuntal Comparison

    Author:David Damrosch

    Abstract: The Eurocentrism of Comparative Literature has meant that non-European literary texts have been studied through either vague universalism or imperialist exoticism. What can correct, or complement, such orientalist knowledge is contrapuntal reading with local knowledge, to tackle cultural difference not as an anomaly but a fact to be analytically accommodated. Engaging previous theoretical work in literary studies and anthropology that have struggled with the Eurocentric foundations of scholarly disciplines, this paper presents a sample of contrapuntal reading by examining the 1976 English translation of Kālidāsa’s Meghadūta,...

    Vol. 6 No. 1 June 2022      Time:2022-06-20 View Citation

  • Global Comparative Literature in a World of Pandemics

    Author:Karen Thornber

    Abstract: Ours is a world of pandemics. Intersecting with and frequently exacerbated by responses to the coronavirus pandemic have been numerous pandemics with much longer histories, including pandemics of other communicable diseases, as well as pandemics of non-communicable diseases, mental illness, addiction, systemic racism, social injustice, gender-based violence, and misinformation, all of which have been deeply intertwined with environmental degradation and climate disruption. In our era of multiple intensifying pandemics, not to mention often anemic humanities enrollments, it is crucial that comparative literature go more global: engaging more deeply with a broader array of texts,...

    Vol. 6 No. 1 June 2022      Time:2022-06-20 View Citation

  • Comparing "West" and "Rest": Beyond Eurocentrism?

    Author:Theo D'haen

    Abstract: From different perspectives, Shu-mei Shih, Rey Chow, and Revathi Krishnaswamy have accused Comparative Literature of being inherently Eurocentric in that the comparative study of non-European/Western literatures continues being steered by European/Western paradigms. In what follows I briefly outline their respective positions, and argue that over the past few decades at least some attempts have been made to move beyond Eurocentrism.

    Vol. 6 No. 1 June 2022      Time:2022-06-20 View Citation

  • Overcoming Thresholds and the Mysterious Travels of Literary Influence: Why National Canons Cannot Be Projected onto the Big Canvas

    Author:Mads Rosendahl Thomsen

    Abstract: World literature studies has to navigate between idealism and realism: the idealism of creating a broader and more inclusive understanding of the world’s literature, and the realism of how literature circulates and has to overcome many thresholds to change canonization. The increased recognition of how translation is a necessary part of world literature has done much to lay the grounds for an increased engagement with literature in non-European languages. I propose that an understanding of key patterns in the international circulation of literary works can provide a better critique of the imbalances of canonization, and the inspiration for the inclusion of neglected works in the future.

    Vol. 6 No. 1 June 2022      Time:2022-06-20 View Citation

  • Comparative Criticism beyond Eurocentrism: In Search of the Untranslatables of Literary Theory

    Author:Thomas O. Beebee

    Abstract: While the study of world literature is often seen as escaping the boundaries of eurocentrism—albeit with the need for constant revision and self-critique—a truer overcoming would involve another sort of anthologization, namely, of world theory and criticism. World literature should go beyond being a reified collection of translated texts, to become an exploration and comparison of the different ways of thinking about literature and aesthetics in different parts of the world. Barbara Cassin's Vocabulaire Européen des philosophies: Dictionnaire des intraduisibles provides a possible model in this regard....

    Vol. 6 No. 1 June 2022      Time:2022-06-20 View Citation

  • ​Critical Terms and Their Resonances in Translation: The Case of Feng

    Author:Yan Liu

    Abstract: Critical terms in Chinese poetics pose difficulties to those who expect clear definitions and scopes of reference since many such words are not "properly" defined in their first appearances. To make matters worse, they gain new meanings when they are used and re-used in different contexts. By tracing the origins and the further resonances of feng in Chinese poetics, this essay demonstrates the discrepancy between the varied meanings of the word in Chinese and those in the English translations. This essay argues that one should not use their preconceptions to judge other literatures and cultures but to respect this "otherness" by probing the other intellectual traditions to find out their particularities.

    Vol. 6 No. 1 June 2022      Time:2022-06-20 View Citation

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