The past few decades have been crucial for the dismantling of theory, formerly understood as a monolithic concept, applicable to a wide range of epochs and regions. Rather than a timeless or non-spatial concept, theory represents “a historically circumscribed mode of thinking about literature” (Galin Tihanov). Researchers informed by Edward Saidʼs “traveling theory” (James Clifford, Caren Kaplan, Mieke Bal) have also insisted on the enormous pressure of context in shaping and reshaping theory. Convincing metanarratives of itinerant international canonization in the 20th century literature (Mads Rosendahl Thomsen) have opened the theoretical debate.
The system of circulation and adaptation of theories in different local contexts has been, we believe, insufficiently investigated. Moreover, with few exceptions, theory has been localized in Western cultures, while the other regions of the world are presumed to provide, at their best, the literary material necessary for its illustration. In a seminal study, Revathi Krishnaswami points to the fact that, while the literary canon has constantly expanded with the emergence of postcolonial comparatism, the systematic reflection on literature is still treated as a Western European or American trait. Therefore, she calls for the building of a set of “world literary knowledges” that would include conceptual hypotheses from outside the consecrated “World Republic of Letters”.
Our conference, an event of the Metacritic Journal for Comparative Studies and Theory (http://www.metacriticjournal.com/) invites different reflections on the relationship between theory and context, on concept transfer from one environment to the other, on the mapping of World Theory at certain points in time, on theoryʼs embededness in local cultures (either as “location”, or as “untranslatability”) or, quite the contrary, on its cross-cultural potential. Not least of all, our aim is to provide the necessary framework for addressing the hegemonic relationships between cultures in terms of theory production and to explore cultural strategies in which these “world literary knowledges” can effectively extend their territory outside Western borders.
We expect proposals of individual papers and panels (author name and affiliation, paper title, 150 words paper proposal, 100 words author bio-note) by December 20, 2019. All proposals and questions will be sent to Alex Goldiș or Mihaela Ursa, at email@example.com.
Revathi Krishnaswamy, “Toward World Literary Knowledges: Theory in the Age of Globalization”, Comparative Literature, Vol. 62, No. 4 (Fall 2010), pp. 399-419.
Galin Tihanov, The Birth and Death of Literary Theory. Regimes of Relevance in Russia and Beyond. Regimes of Relevance in Russia and Beyond (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2019).
Mads Rosendahl Thomsen, Mapping World Literature. International Canonization and Transnational Literatures (New York: Continuum Publishing, 2008).
Edward W. Said, “Traveling Theory,” in The World, the Text, and the Critic (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1983).
Edward W. Said, “Traveling Theory Reconsidered,” in Reflections on Exile and Other Essays (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2000).
Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (Oxon/New York: Routledge, 1994).
Caren Kaplan, “Traveling Theorists,” in Questions of Travel. Postmodern Discourses of Displacement (London: Durham, 1996).
James Clifford, Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge MA/London: Harvard University Press, 1997).
Mieke Bal, Travelling Concepts in the Humanities: A Rough Guide (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2002).
Emily Apter, Against World Literature. On the Politics of Untranslatability (London: Verso, 2013).
Pascale Casanova, La République mondiale des Lettres (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1997).