July 18-28

Helena Buescu, "'Doing' Things in World Literature"

The starting point of this seminar is the realization that there are a number of different actions and events that seem to recur in a variety of different literatures around the world. Among these we will single out: 1) constructing heroes ; 2) plots and counterplots; 3) loving; 4) making worlds. Yet, these phenomena are differently elaborated in different cultures and literatures. In this seminar we will investigate how some of these literatures may enter into dialogue over a common set of phenomena. The comparative grounding of World Literature is therefore a theoretical position that the work in the seminar must also interrogate. Literary works to be dealt with might include selections from: Ancient Egypt; Ritual Mayan texts; The Bible; Sophocles; T’ang poetry; Dante; Machiavelli; Camões; Racine; Alfred de Musset; Dostoyevsky; Pepetela.

Helena Carvalhão Buescu is professor of Comparative Literature at ULisboa. HelenaShe has published in Portuguese and in international periodicals, authored eleven books, and directed an anthology of World Literature in Portuguese, in 6 volumes (2018-2020). She collaborates with foreign Universities in Europe, United States and Brazil, as well as international Schools such as IWL, HERMES, and INCH. She founded and directed the Centre for Comparative Studies (ULisboa) and served on several International Boards. She is member of Academia Europaea, the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies (Univ. London) and St. John’s College (UCambridge). Also member of Academia das Ciências de Lisboa. She has won several prizes.

Session 1: World Literature and Comparative Literature

  • Some secondary texts on the question. Introduction to the course. Sandra Bermann and Haun Saussy.

Session 2: Constructing heroes

  • Homer, Illiad (Canto XXIV)
  • Camões, The Old Man in Restelo (Canto IV) and Adamastor (Canto V, 37-60) from The Lusiads
  • Pepetela, Mayombe (Chapter 5 and Epilogue).
  • Additional reading: René Girard, The Violence and the Sacred.

Session 3: Plots and counterplots (1)

  • Ancient Egypt, "The Story of Sinuhe"
  • Sophocles, Ajax.
  • Additional Reading: article by John Baines.

Session 4: Plots and counterplots (2)

  • Machiavelli, The Prince (three last chapters)
  • Musset, Lorenzaccio.

Session 5: Loving (1)

  • Bible, Song of Solomon
  • T’ang poetry
  • Dante, Divina Commedia (“Inferno”, Paolo and Francesca)

Session 6: Loving (2)

  • Racine, Phaedra
  • Dostoyevsky, White Nights
  • Additional reading: Niklas Luhmann (chapter 6, Love as Passion).

Session 7: Making and unmaking worlds (1)

  • Ritual Mayan texts.
  • Borges, "The Immortal"
  • Additional Reading: Mircea Eliade, Cosmos and History. The Myth of the Eternal Return

Session 8: Making and unmaking worlds (2)

  • Voltaire, "Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne"
  • E.A. Poe, "The Fall of the house of Usher"
  • Machado de Assis, "Missa do Galo"
  • Camilo Pessanha, “Who soiled these linens, who left them stained and torn”
  • Additional Reading: Assmann, Aleida. "Texts, Traces, Trash: The Changing Media of Cultural Memory."


David Damrosch, "Globalization and Its Discontents"

This seminar will trace the problematic of global world literature over the course of the modern period, looking at the rise of capitalist markets, the shifting of centers, peripheries, and semi-peripheries, and the interplay of empires and broader global frameworks in the age of (semi-)global English. Works by Molière, Chikamatsu Monzaemon, James Joyce, Higuchi Ichiyo, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Clarice Lispector, Eileen Chang, Salman Rushdie, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Ang Lee will be explored in light of debates over world literature and globalization from Goethe and Auerbach to contemporary scholars including Pascale Casanova, Franco Moretti, Emily Apter, Shu-mei Shih, and the Warwick Research Collective.

David Damrosch is Director of the Institute for World Literature and David DProfessor and Chair of the Department of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. His books include What Is World Literature? (2003), The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh (2007), How to Read World Literature(2d. ed. 2017), and Comparing the Literatures: Literary Studies in a Global Age (2020)He is the general editor of the six-volume Longman anthologies of British Literature and of World Literature, editor of World Literature in Theory (2014), and co-editor of The Princeton Sourcebook in Comparative Literature, and of two collections in Chinese, Theories of World Literature (2013) and New Directions in Comparative Literature (2010).


Session 1: World Literature(s)/Weltliteratur(en)

  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, from Conversations with Eckermann
  • Hutcheson Macaulay Posnett, “World-literature”
  • Erich Auerbach, “Philology of World Literature”
  • Selections from Apuleius, Hafiz, and Goethe

Session 2: Comparing the Incomparable 

  • Marcel Detienne, “Constructing Comparables”
  • Sheldon Pollock, "Comparison without Hegemony"
  • Molière, from The Bourgeois Gentilhomme
  • Chikamatsu Monzaemon, Love Suicides at Amijima

Shifting Centers: 

Session 3: Peripheries and Semi-peripheries

  • Franco Moretti, “Conjectures on World Literature” and “More Conjectures”
  • Critiques of Moretti by the Warwick Research Collective
  • Higuchi Ichiyo, “Separate Ways”
  • James Joyce, “The Sisters,” “Eveline”
  • Clarice Lispector, “Happy Birthday”

Session 4: Provincializing Europe

  • Pascale Casanova, “Literature, Nation, and Politics”
  • Oswald de Andrade, “The Anthropophagist Manifesto”
  • Jorge Luis Borges, “The Argentine Writer and Tradition,” “Pierre Menard”
  • Julio Cortázar, “Axolotl”
  • Clarice Lispector, “The Fifth Story”

Translation in the Global Market

Session 5: The Uneven Playing Field

  • Georg Brandes, “World Literature”
  • Jorge Luis Borges, “The Translators of the 1001 Nights”
  • Emily Apter, “Untranslatables: A World System”
  • Selections from translations of The Thousand and One Nights

Session 6:  Making a World Author

  • Stephen Owen, “What Is World Poetry?”; “Stepping Forward and Back”
  • Selections from Wu Cheng’en, Bei Dao, and Mo Yan

Born Global 

Session 7: The Politics of Global English

  • Gillian Lane-Mercer, “Global and Local Languages”
  • Rebecca Walkowitz, from Born Translated
  • Salman Rushdie, “Chekov and Zulu”
  • Jhumpa Lahiri, “The Third and Final Continent”
  • Jamyang Norbu, from The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes

Session 8: From Shanghai to Hollywood

  • Eileen Chang, “Lust, Caution”
  • Ang Lee, Lust, Caution
  • Leo Ou-fan Lee, “Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution and Its Reception”


Stefano Evangelista, "Citizens of Nowhere: Writing Cosmopolitanism"

Cosmopolitanism, derived from the Greek for ‘world citizenship’, denotes the aspiration to transcend the cultural and linguistic boundaries of the nation, and to imagine oneself in relation to a global community. This seminar will address different ways in which cosmopolitanism has been theorised, debated, practised, attacked and defended, and how ideas of transnational citizenship have shaped literary texts. We will explore cosmopolitanism’s complex and sometimes fraught relationship with ideas of nationalism, globalisation and wStefano Evangelista 2orld literature. We will interrogate how theories of cosmopolitanism are affected by gender, class and identity politics. Texts covered by the seminar range from works by Kwame Anthony Appiah to Baudelaire, Herder, Georg Simmel, Rabindranath Tagore, Virginia Woolf and Stefan Zweig.
Stefano Evangelista is Associate Professor of English at Oxford University. He specialises in nineteenth-century English and comparative literature. His publications include British Aestheticism and Ancient Greece: Hellenism, Reception, Gods in Exile(2009) and edited volumes on the reception of Oscar Wilde in Europe and literary cosmopolitanism in the fin de siècle. His work on literary cosmopolitanism has been awarded prestigious grants by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. 

Session 1:World Literature, World Citizenship

  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, ‘On World Literature’, in World Literature: A Reader, ed. by Theo D’haen, César Domínguez and Mads Rosendahl Thomsen (London and New York: Routledge, 2013).
  • Immanuel Kant, ‘Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose’, in The Cosmopolitanism Reader, ed. by Garrett Wallace Brown and David Held (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012).
  • Fritz Strich, ‘World Literature and Comparative Literary History’, in World Literature: A Reader, ed. by Theo D’haen, César Domínguez and Mads Rosendahl Thomsen (London and New York: Routledge, 2013).

Session 2: Nationalism

  • Johann Gottfried Herder, Reflections on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind, ed. by Frank E. Manuel (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1968).
  • Fedor Dostoevsky, ‘Pushkin Speech’..
  • Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Nationalism in India’, in Indian Philosophy in English: From Renaissance to Independence, ed. by Nalini Bhushan and Jay L. Garfield (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).

Session 3: Worldliness

  • Charles Baudelaire, ‘The Painter of Modern Life’, in The Painter of Modern Life and other Essays, trans. by Jonathan Mayne (New York: Da Capo, 1986).
  • Henry James, The Ambassadors, ed. Adrian Poole (London: Penguin, 2008).
  • Paul Bourget, Cosmopolis (New York: Current Literature Publishing, 1908) Author’s introduction- https://archive.org/details/cosmopolis00bour/page/n9

Session 4: World Capitals

  • Pascale Casanova, ‘Literature as a World’, in World Literature: A Reader, ed. by Theo D’haen, César Domínguez and Mads Rosendahl Thomsen (Routledge, 2013).
  • Stefan Zweig, The World of Yesterday, trans. by Anthea Bell (London: Pushkin Press, 2011),‘Foreword’ and ‘Beyond Europe’.
  • Walter Benjamin, ‘Paris, Capital of the nineteenth Century’, in Reflections(New York: Schocken, 2007).

Session 5: Queer Worlds

  • C. P. Cavafy, Collected Poems, trans. by Evangelos Sachperoglou (Oxford World’s Classics, 2007).
  • Mikhail Kuzmin, Mikhail Kuzmin, Wings, trans. by Hugh Alpin (London: Hesperus, 2007).
  • Robert Aldrich, ‘Introduction: the seduction of the colonies’ to Colonialism and Homosexuality.

Session 6: Patriotism and Pacifism

  • Appiah, Kwame Anthony, ‘Cosmopolitan Patriots’, Critical Inquiry23:3 (1997).
  • Woolf, Virginia, Three Guineas, in A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas, ed. by Michèle Barrett (London: Penguin, 1993).

Session 7: The Love of Strangers 

  • Georg Simmel, ‘The Stranger’.
  • J.K. Huysmans, Against Nature, trans. by Robert Baldwick (London: Penguin), chapter XI.
  • Katherine Mansfield, ‘The Little Governess’, in Selected Stories(New York, Norton, 2006).
  • Jacques Derrida, ‘Foreigner Question’, in Of Hospitality, trans. Rachel Bowlby (Stanford University Press, 2000).

Session 8: Resistance of Form

  • Theodor Adorno, ‘On the Use of Foreign Words’, in Notes to Literature, trans. by Shierry Weber Nicholsen (New York: Columbia University Press)
  • Barbara Cassin, Dictionary of Untranslatables, trans. Emily Apter, Jacques Lezra and Michael Wood (Princeton University Press, 2014): Preface and Introduction and ‘Welt’.


Françoise Král, "Worlding in Tongues: World Literature and the Polyglot Turn"

While standardization and the formatting of language and cultural practices are often identified as consequences of the increasingly globalized nature of the world today, literature, and in particular anglophone literature, continues to open onto new vistas. In this seminar we will reflect on cultural resilience and idiosyncrasies and their role as cultural and political counterforces.
Despite the linguistic ubiquity of English as a language gone global, contemporary anglophone world literature spans a variety of situations and ways of relating to English. This increasingly complex map of linguistic genealogies and cultural crisscrossing constitutes a decisive entry point into our understanding of a world largely dominated by the ubiquity of the English language, as this language has branched out in two radically different directions : on the one hand the ‘Globish’ (Cassin) – a form of English simplified for the benefit of non-native speakers in technical and commercial dealings and transactions –  and on the other increasingly complex rhizoming forms of English which testify to the renewed vitality of English today (Mufwene).
   Rather than focus on the cultural common ground and the areas of overlap which the linguistic hegemony of the English language would seem to offer, the seminar will investigate the zones of friction and tension which continue to be expressed, those moments when rather than freely flow, texts express the resilient ruggedness of our ‘globalized world’.
  The seminar will consider a large variety of literary, linguistic and epistemological issues which will be approached contrapuntally, through the dual focus of theorization (Walter Benjamin, Barbara Cassin, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Edouard Glissant, Julia Kristeva, Jean-Jacques Lecercle) and literature (John Agard, Cristina Garcia, V.S. Naipaul, Marlene NourbeSe Philip, Arundhati Roy).


Françoise Král is Professor of English and diaspora studies at Université Paris Nanterre and Director of the CREA Research Centre (Centre for Research in Anglophones Studies). Her research interests include postcolonial literatures and cultures, critical theory, contemporary 20th and 21st century Anglophone literature and diaspora studies. Francoise KralShe is the author of Critical Identities in Contemporary Anglophone Diasporic Literature (Palgrave, 2009), Social Invisibility in Anglophone Diasporic Literature and Culture: The Fractal Gaze (Palgrave, 2014) and Sounding out History (2018). She has directed several collected volumes, (Re-presenting Otherness (Publidix, 2004), Architecture and Philosophy: New Perspectives on the Work of Arakawa and Gins (co-edited with Jean-Jacques Lecercle, Rodopi, 2011)) as well as journal issues including a special issue of Commonwealth Essays and Studies, Crossings (37.1 autumn 2014), Polygraphiques (2018) and a special issue of The Journal of Postcolonial Writing (2019). She is a founding member of the international interdisciplinary research network Diaspolinks. Her current research focuses on the perception of monoglossia and linguistic diversity in a historical perspective and on the resilience of imaginaries in a global context.

Session 1: The polyglot turn

  • Arundhati Roy Azadi, Freedom, Fascism, Fiction. 1.“In What Language does Rain Fall Over Tormented cities? The Weather Underground in The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.”
  • Edouard Glissant. Poetics of Relation.  “Dictate, Decree.”

Session 2: From colonial legacies to double belonging

  • Derrida. Monolingualism of the Other;  or the Prosthesis of Origin.
  • Ngugi Wa Thiong’o. Decolonising the Mind : The Politics of Language in African Literature. “The Language of African Literature.”

Session 3: M/other tongues and stepmother tongues

  • John Agard, “Listen Mister Oxford Don”.
  • Jean Bernabé, Patrick Chamoiseau, Raphaël Confiant. Eloge de la Créolité. In Praise of Creoleness.

Session 4:  Linguistic genealogies

  • Jhumpa Lahiri. The Namesake.
  • Pascale Casanova La République Mondiale des Lettres. The World Republic of Letters. (Paris: Seuil, 1999). II.Literary Revolts and Revolutions 7. The Assimilated ; Naipaul : the need to conform.
  • V.S. Naipaul. The Enigma of Arrival, A Novel in Five Section. Part One “Jack’s Garden”.

Session  5: Lost or gained in translation?

  • Gilles Deleuze,. Essays Critical and Clinical. “He stuttered.”
  • Julia Kristeva. Stranger to Ourselves, “Toccata and Fugue for the Foreigner.”
  • Marlene NourbeSe Philip. “Discourse on the Logic of Language.”

Session 6:  Affecting language

  • Cristina Garcia. Dreaming in Cuban.
  • Walter Mignolo.  Local Histories/ Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border thinking. “Bilanguaging love: thinking in between languages.”

Session 7 : "Complicating the universal"

  • Walter Benjamin. “The Task of the Translator.”
  • Barbara Cassin, “To Translate” in Dictionary of Untranslatables, A Philosophical Lexicon.
  • Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things.

Session 8: Languaging and cultural resilience

  • Jean-Jacques Lecercle. A Marxist Philosophy of Language. Leiden: Brill, 2006. Chapter 1 pp1-24
  • Françoise Král. “Polyglossing in English: The Diasporic Trajectories of the English Language.”

Galin Tihanov, "Exilic Writing and the Making of World Literature"

This course is about the centrality of exile and exilic writing in the making of world literature. Not only is writing about exile a specific mode of producing a particular version of the world; it is also a way of thinking about movement, mediations, transfers, and boundaries. Crucially, exile is one of the foundational discourses of modernity that interrogates memory, identity, and language. Today’s notion of world literature is inseparable from a transnational and cosmopolitan perspective, which is intimately – and in a characteristically contradictory manner –linked to exilic experiences and the practice of exilic writing. In this course, we will analyse artefacts (literature, but also some paintings, two texts which fall in the genre of “philosophy of history”, a play, and a film) by European, Indian, Japanese, and American authors in order to begin to think about how exile and exilic writing have been inscribed in the very notion of world literature with which we work today.

Galin Tihanov is the George Steiner Professor of Comparative Literature at Queen Mary, University of  GalinLondon. He has published widely on German, Russian, and East-European cultural and intellectual history. His most recent research has been on cosmopolitanism, exile, and transnationalism. Amongst his recent authored and edited books are Narrativas do Exílio: Cosmopolitismo além da Imaginação Liberal (2013) and Enlightenment Cosmopolitanism(2011, ed. with David Adams). Tihanov is winner, with Evgeny Dobrenko, of the Efim Etkind Prize for Best Book on Russian Culture (2012), awarded for their co-edited A History of Russian Literary Theory and Criticism: The Soviet Age and Beyond(2011). He is Honorary President of the ICLA Committee on Literary Theory, member of Academia Europaea, and Honorary Scientific Advisor to the Institute of Foreign Literatures at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Tihanov has held visiting appointments at Yale University, St. Gallen University, the University of Sao Paulo, and Peking University. 

Session 1: Exotopy and Inbetweenness

  • Verse selections from the Bible (Psalm 137, “By the rivers of Babylon…”); Ovid, “Tristia” and “Ex Ponto”; and Agha Shahid Ali, “When on Route 80 in Ohio”, in Away: The Indian Writer as an Expatriate, ed. A. Kumar, New York: Routledge, 2004.
  • Edward Said, Reflections on Exile and Other Essays, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000, Ch. 17, “Reflections on Exile” (1984).
  • Hannah Arendt, “We Refugees”, in H. Arendt, The Jew as Pariah, New York: Grove, 1978.
  • Giorgio Agamben. "We Refugees", Symposium, 1995, No. 49 (2).
  • Paulo BartoloniOn the Cultures of Exile, Translation, and Writing. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue UP, 2008.

Session 2: Memory and the Languages of Exile

  • Viewing of selected paintings by Marc Chagall
  • Marc Chagall, My Life, Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989.
  • Benjamin Harshav, Marc Chagall and the Lost Jewish World, New York: Rizzoli, 2006.
  • Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin, Lonodn: Heinemann, 1957, Ch. 1.
  • Bryan Boyd, Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years, London: Vintage, 1993.

Session 3: Exilic Cosmopolitanism

  • Eugene Ionesco, The Bald Prima Dona, in: Ionesco, Plays, Vol. 1, trans. Donald Watson, London: Calder, 1958.
  • Eugene Ionesco, Notes and Counter-Notes, trans. Donald Watson, London: Calder, 1964.
  • David Damrosch, “Auerbach in Exile”, Comparative Literature, 1995, 47, No. 2. 
  • Galin Tihanov, “Why Did Modern Literary Theory Originate in Central and Eastern Europe? (And Why Is It Now Dead?)”, Common Knowledge, 2004, Vol. 10, No. 1.

Session 4Exilic Anti-Cosmopolitanism

  • Nikolai Trubetskoi, “Europe and Mankind”, in Nikolai Trubetzkoy, The Legacy of Genghis Khan, Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Publications, 1991.
  • Petr Savitskii, “A Turn to the East”, in Exodus to the East. Forebodings and Events: An Affirmation of the Eurasians, Idyllwild, CA: Charles Schlacks, 1996 [originally published in Russian, 1921].
  • N. Riasanovsky, “The Emergence of Eurasianism”, in Exodus to the East. Forebodings and Events: An Affirmation of the Eurasians, Idyllwild, CA: Charles Schlacks, 1996.

Session 5: The Affective Economy of Exile

  • Krzysztof Kieslowski, Three Colours: White (1994).
  • Emma Wilson, Memory and Survival: The French Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski, Oxford: Legenda, 2000.
  • Julia Kristeva, Strangers to Ourselves, New York: Harvester & Wheatsheaf, 1991.

Session 6: De-Romanticizing Exile

  • Mori Ogai, “The Boat on the River Takase”, in The Historical Literature of Mori Ogai, ed. R. Bowring et al., Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1977, Vol. 1 (The Incident at Sakai, and Other Stories).
  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, trans. Ralph Parker, London: Penguin, 1963.
  • Galin Tihanov, “Narratives of Exile: Cosmopolitanism Beyond the Liberal Imagination”, in Whose Cosmopolitanism? Critical Perspectives, Relationalities and Discontents, ed. N. Glick Schiller and A. Irving, New York and Oxford: Berghahn, 2015.

Session 7: Homecomers and Boomerangs

  • Milan Kundera, Ignorance, trans. Linda Asher, London: Faber & Faber, 2002.
  • V. S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River, London: Penguin, 1979.
  • Fiona Doloughan, “The myth of the great return: memory, longing and forgetting in Milan Kundera's Ignorance”, in: Creativity in Exile, ed. Michael Hanne, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004.

Session 8: Reflective Epilogue

In this session, we build upon our discussions of the texts in Weeks 1-7 to revisit the centrality of exile in the making of world literature as a concept and practice. Questions of language, memory, identity, transnationalism and cosmopolitanism – and how they relate to one another – are once again in the spotlight, this time with the purpose of drawing some tentative conclusions while engendering a productive uncertainty about the epistemological status of these notions.