July 4-14

Thomas Claviez, "Conceptualizing Cosmopolitanism and World Literature: A Critical Survey"

Our seminar will focus upon a critical reading of what will be exclusively theoretical texts. Ever so often, critical concepts that are currently "fashionable" on the intellectual marketplace are appropriated and used in a rather unreflected manner – be it some philosophical giant, such as Immanuel Kant, or a "famous" researcher that dominates the contemporary scene. With the help of a few guiding questions for each of the texts read, the seminar will try to create a critical awareness about the presuppositions, the argumentation, and the implied consequences these approaches entail. This is indispensable in order to know where these texts can lead you as far as readings go, and where the blind spot and unreflected biases are that any theoretical approach entails. As both the concepts of Cosmopolitanism and World Literature revolve around a main binary – that between sameness and difference – we will try to locate instances where these binaries appear, and how they are being designated and used for the purpose at hand. This seminar, thus, is geared toward students/scholars who want to question current – and their own – assumptions about canonized texts within the debates of Cosmopolitanism and World Literature, and to find out more about the connections between the two.

Thomas ClaviezThomas Claviez is Professor for Literary Theory and Co-Director of the Center for Global Studies (CGS) at the University of Bern, where he is responsible for the MA-program "World Literature." He is the author of Grenzfälle: Mythos – Ideologie – American Studies (1998) and Aesthetics & Ethics: Moral Imagination from Aristotle to Levinas and from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to House Made of Dawn (2008), as well as co-author, with Dietmar Wetzel, of Zur Aktualität von Jacques Rancière (2016). He is the co-editor of “Mirror Writing”: (Re-)Construc-tions of Native American Identity (2000), Theories of American Studies/Theories of American Culture (2003), Neo-Realism: Between Innovation and Continuation (2004), Aesthetic Transgressions: Modernity, Liberalism, and the Function of Literature (2006), and editor of the collection The Conditions of Hospitality: Ethics, Aesthetics and Politics at the Treshold of the Possible (Fordham UP, 2014) and The Common Growl: Towards a Poetics of Precarious Community (Fordham UP, 2017). He is currently working on a monograph with the title A Metonymic Community? Towards a Poetics of Contingency, and on two editions with the titles Critique of Authenticity (Vernon Press) and Throwing the Moral Dice: Ethics and/of Contingency (Fordham UP), both forthcoming in 2019.


Session 1: The History of Cosmopolitanism

  • “Cosmopolitanism.”
  • Kant, Immanuel. “Perpetual Peace.”
  • -----. “Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View.”

Session 2: The Birth of Nationalism

  • Herder, Johann Gottfried. Reflections on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind.
  • Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities.

Session 3: Liberal Interpretations of Cosmopolitanism: The Problem of Universalism

  • Nussbaum, Martha C. “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism.”
  • Butler, Judith. “Universality in Culture.”
  • Nussbaum, Martha C. “Reply.”
  • Beck, Ulrich. The Cosmopolitan Vision.

Session 4: Whose Cosmopolitanism? Cosmopolitanism and the Other

  • Levinas, Emmanuel. Otherwise Than Being.
  • ----. Ethics and Infinity.
  • Derrida, Jacques. On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness.

Session 5: Alternative Communities – Alternative Stories?

  • Nancy, Jean-Luc. The Inoperative Community.
  • Agamben, Giorgio. The Coming Community.


Session 6: Origins of World Literature: Goethe to Auerbach

  • Auerbach, Erich. “The Philology of World Literature.”
  • Cheah, Pheng. “What is a World? On World Literature as World-Making Activity.” 

Session 7: World Literature or the World of Literature? Hegemonic and Modernist Approaches

  • Moretti, Franco. “Conjectures on World Literature.”
  • -----. “More Conjectures.”
  • Berman, Jessica. Modernist Fiction, Cosmopolitanism, and the Politics of Community.

Session 8: Travellin' Books

  • Damrosch, David. What Is World Literature?
  • -----. “Script Worlds, Writing Systems, and the Formation of World Literature.”

Dieter Lamping, "The Diversity of World Literature"

The seminar will analyse and discuss the different meanings of ‚world literature‘ as a literary term used in theoretical concepts from Goethe to the present. It will focus on concepts that reflect the relations between world literature and literary communication, world literature and canon, world literature and literary reception, world literature and cosmopolitanism. world literature and capitalism, world literature and multiculturalism. A selected number of literary texts will be read in light of the theoretical concept

Dieter Lamping is Professor Emeritus of General and Comparative Literature at Mainz University.Dieter Lamping He has published books on modern poetry from Baudelaire to Bob Dylan, Jewish literature of the 20th century, and literary theory, also monographs on Goethe, Kafka and Karl Jaspers. His publications on world literature include Die Idee der Weltliteratur (The Idea of World Literature, 2010) and Meilensteine der Weltliteratur (Milestones of World Literature, 2015). Together with Galin Tihanov he edited Vergleichende Weltliteraturen/ Comparative World Literatures (2019).


Session 1: Introduction: Local Literature, National Literature, World Literature. Discussing four examples

  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Campagne in France.
  • Heinrich Heine, The Rabbi of Bacharach.
  • Anna Seghers. The Seventh Cross.
  • Carl Zuckmayer. The Devil's General.

Session 2: Goethe’s Idea of World Literature

  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Conversation with Eckermann.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “On World Literature.”
  • Fritz Strich, The Idea.

Session 3: World Literature, Distribution, and Translation

  • Albert Guérard, “What Is World Literature and the Instrument: Translation.”
  • David Damrosch, “What Is World Literature?”
  • Susan Bassnett, “Introduction: The Rocky Relationship between Translation Studies and World Literature."

Session 4: World Literature and Cosmopolitanism

  • John Pizer, “Cosmopolitanism and Weltliteratur.”
  • Zheng Zhenduo, “A View on the Unification of Literature.”
  • Thomas Mann, “Nationale und internationale Kunst."

Session 5: World Literature and Canon

  • Georg Brandes, “World Literature.”
  • René Etiemble, “Do We Have to Revise the Notion of World Literature?”

Session 6: World Literature and Capitalism

  • Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, “The Communist Manifesto.” 
  • Emily Apter, “Literary World-Systems."

Session 7: World Literature Beyond Europe

  • Rabindranath Tagore, “World Literature.”
  • Maxim Gorky, “World Literature.”
  • Jorge Luis Borges, “The Argentine Writer and the Tradition.”

Session 8: Conclusions and Perspectives

  • B. Venkat Mani, “Introduction” to Recoding World Literature.


B. Venkat Mani, "Tales of Unsettlement: Refugees and / in World Literature" 

We are living, once again, in times of forced migrations and refuge. For the year 2020, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimated that there were 82.4 million forcibly displaced people around the world—the highest number on record since the two World Wars. The proliferation of refugees and stateless people in the world has coincided with the resurgence of ethno-religious nationalism and divisive rhetoric centered on securing and insulating borders. The closing of international borders and the massive restrictions on visa processes amid the global coronavirus pandemic, all under the guise of protecting national public health and safety, is just the latest indication of the uncertain journey ahead for migrants and refugees around the world.

At this conflict-ridden and volatile moment at the beginning of the third decade of the twenty-first century, in this seminar we will engage with a variety of texts and historical contexts in the twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries that led to the creation of exiles, migrants, and refugees.

How do historical moments of forced migration and refuge impact our understanding of national and world literatures? How does an engagement with exilic and refugee figures broaden and deepen our comprehension of world literature? How does reading history and literature together enrich our understanding of aesthetic and political representations?  These questions will serve as catalysts for our seminar, as we explore the position and ambition of the novel as part of refugee narratives.

The aim of the seminar is threefold. First, by engaging with conceptual histories of the terms “exiles,” “migrants,” and “refugees,” we will develop a differentiated understanding of “willful” and “forced” migrations. Second, by juxtaposing German/European case studies with those from Asia and Africa, we will try to cultivate a global framework of literary and historical comparison. And third, by locating narratives of exiles, migrants, and refugees at the intersection of “world literature” and “global history”—two terms that have gained traction in the twenty-first century scholarship—we will locate fault lines of race, ethnicity, sexuality, language, and religion in histories of colonialism and globalization.

B. Venkat Mani is Professor of German and World Literature, past director of Center for South Asia, and currently the Race, Ethnicity and Indigeneity Senior Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.Venkat He is the author or editor of seven works including Cosmopolitical Claims: Turkish German Literatures from Nadolny to Pamuk (University of Iowa Press, 2007) and Recoding World Literature: Libraries, Print Culture, and Germany’s Pact with Books (Fordham UP, 2017; winner of GSA's DAAD Prize and MLA’s Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Best Book in German Studies 2018). He's co-editor, A Companion to World Literature (Wiley Blackwell 2020), and editor, most recently for the German Quarterly Forum “World Literature: Against Isolationist Readings” (Fall 2021). His public humanities essays can be read in in Inside Higher EdTelosThe Wire (Hindi), The Hindustan Times, and The Indian Express

He has received fellowships and grants from the Social Science Research Council; the Andrew Mellon Foundation’s Sawyer Seminar Grant; the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Experienced Researcher Fellowship; the US Department of Education’s Title VI Grant for Center for South Asia; and a DAAD grant for UW’s Center for German and European Studies, and a Residential fellowship from the Zentrum für Literatur und Kulturforschung Berlin. 

Session 1: Exiles, Migrants, and Refugees: Conceptual Histories

  • Arendt, Hannah. “We Refugees.” The Jewish Writings.
  • Said, Edward W. “Reflections on Exile.” Reflections on Exile and Other Essays.
  • Nguyen, “On Being a Refugee, An American—and a Human Being.” In The Refugees.
  • Optional: Guha, Ranajit. “The Migrant’s Time.” Postcolonial Studies.

Session 2: World Literature, Global History: Critical Approaches

  • Damrosch, David. “Worlds.”  Comparing the Literatures: Literary Studies in a Global Age.
  • Conrad, Sebastian. “Introduction” to What Is Global History?.
  • Optional: Mazlish, Bruce. “Comparing Global History to World History.” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History.
  • Optional: Mani, B. Venkat. “Introduction: Recoding World Literature.” Recoding World Literature: Libraries, Print Culture, and Germany’s Pact with Books.
  • Optional: Frank Johnson, Alison. “Europe without Borders: Environmental and Global History in a World after Continents.”

Session 3: Migration, Forced Migration, and Refugee Studies: Critical Approaches

  • Chimni, B. S. “The Birth of a ‘Discipline’: From Refugee to Forced Migration Studies.”
  • Gatrell, Peter. “Refugees--What’s Wrong with History?”
  • Nguyen, Vinh. “Refugeetude: When Does a Refugee Stop Being a Refugee?”

Session 4: Walls, Borders, Frontiers: Critical Approaches

  • Friedman, Susan Stanford. “Migrations, Diasporas, and Borders.” Introduction to Scholarship in Modern Languages and Literatures.
  • Loyd, Jenna M. and Alison Mountz. “Introduction.” Boats, Borders, and Bases: Race, the Cold War, and the Rise of Migration Detention in the United States.
  • Optional: Anzaldúa, Gloria E. “The Homeland, Aztlán.” Borderlands: The New Mestiza = La Frontera.

Session 5: Colonial Legacies I: Politics of Borderlines

  • Arudapragasam, Anuk. A Passage North.
  • Butalia, Urvashi. “Return.” The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India.
  • Optional: Gatrell, Peter. “Midnight’s Refugees?”. The Making of the Modern Refugee.

Session 6: The Holocaust: Remembered from Elsewhere

  • Desai, Anita. Baumgartner’s Bombay.
  • Seghers, Anna. Transit. Translated by Margot Bettauer Dumbo.
  • Optional: Rothberg, Michael. “Introduction.” Multidirectional Memory.

Session 7: From the Cold War to the War on Terror: Afghanistan and Iraq

  • Rahimi, Atiq. Earth and Ashes.
  • Blasim, Hassan. “The Nightmares of Carlos Feuntes.”

Session 8: Colonial Legacies II: Unattended Histories

  • Erepenbeck, Jenny. Go, Went, Gone. T
  • Gurnah, Abdulrazak. Afterlives.


Dubravka Ugrešić, "The Elusive Substance of Archive"

I am going to explore the notion of the archive and the contemporary phenomenon of  archivisation, „archivomania“—the  obsession with archiving—and how this is reflected in literature, specific literary genres (from memoir to auto-fiction), film, art and various cultural projects. Archivomania, supported by numerous digital devices and their seductiveness, marks our contemporary Zeitgeist. Relying on examples from East European Literature and Art, I'll be linking the epochs of Russian avant-garde culture (novels by Konstantin Vaginov) to the culture of soc-art (Ilya Kabakov, Lev Rubinstein, etc.). I will also explore a similar cultural obsession in Yugoslav (Danilo Kiš) and post-Yugoslav literature (my own novels and projects). While teaching two semester at the UvA, the University of Amsterdam, in 1996-97, I initiated a project for the archiving of memories about former Yugoslav everyday life and popular culture. The experience of working on this project with my students helped me formulate some of my thoughts on the theme. As far as a supporting theory of the archive, I will use the unavoidable authorities such as Jacques Derrida and Walter Benjamin and current thinkers. I will also try to show and articulate examples of filmmakers (Werner Herzog) and artists (Christian Boltanski), whose work is connected to the notion of the archive. 

Over the pastDubravka Ugresic three decades, Dubravka Ugrešić has established herself as one of Europe’s most distinctive novelists and essayists. From her early postmodernist excursions, to her elegiac reckonings in fiction and the essay with the disintegration of her Yugoslav homeland and the fall of the Berlin Wall, through to her more recent writings on popular and literary culture, Ugrešić's work is marked by a rare combination of irony, polemic, and compassion.Following degrees in Comparative and Russian Literature, Ugrešić worked for many years at the University of Zagreb’s Institute for Theory of Literature, successfully pursuing parallel careers as both a writer and as a scholar. In 1991, when war broke out in the former Yugoslavia, Ugrešić took a firm anti-war stance, critically dissecting retrograde Croatian and Serbian nationalism, the stupidity and criminality of war, and in the process became a target for nationalist journalists, politicians and fellow writers. Subjected to prolonged public ostracism and persistent media harassment, she left Croatia in 1993. In an exile that has in time become emigration, her books have been translated into over twenty languages. She has taught at a number of American and European universities, including Harvard, UCLA, Columbia and the Free University of Berlin. She is the winner of several major literary prizes (Austrian State Prize for European Literature 1998; finalist of Man Booker International Prize 2009; Jean Améry Essay Prize, awarded for her essayistic work as a whole, 2012; Vilenica Prize 2016; while Karaoke Culture was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism 2011. She is the winner of the 2016 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

Session 1: Archive Fever: Coincidences, Inspirations, Dust

  • Aleida Assmann. “Part Three: Storage.”
  • Dubravka Ugresic, “The Elusive Substance of Archive.”

Session 2: Archive stories: literary narrative/scholarly narrative

  • Archive Stories: Helena Pohlandt - McCormick, “In Good Hands”
  • Danilo Kiš. “The Encyclopedia of Death.”

Session 3: Archives of Everyday life: Konstantin Vaginov and Ilya Kabakov

  • Svetlana Boym: “From Cured Soldiers to Incurable Romantics: Nostalgia and Progress”, “Kabakov’s Toillet.”

Session 4: Dust: Archive as funeral practice

  • Carolyn Steedman: “Something she called a fever: Michelet, Derrida and dust” (17-37).
  • Dubravka Ugresic. “The Little Guys and ‘Gypsy Fortune’.”

Session 5: The disintegration of Yugoslavia and Archive

  • Dubravka Ugresic. The Ministry of Pain (9 - 25; 33-41; 45 -75, New York: Ecco Press, 2016.

Session 6: The writer and his glorious archive

  • Bohumil Hrabal. Too Loud a Solitude.

Session 6: The archivisation of love, gender perspective

  • Orhan Pamuk. The Museum of Innocence. (Chapter 81 Museum of Innocence; 82 Collectors; 83 Happiness).
  • The Museum of Broken Relationships.

Session 7: Ethics of Archive

  • Valeria Luiselli. Lost Children Archive: A Novel.

Session 8: Digital time: self- archivization, bizarre practices, fabrication of life, life as fabrication

  • Swallow by Carlo Mirabella-Davis (film, 2019)
  • Family Romance, LLC by Werner Herzog (film, 2019)


Lawrence Venuti, "What is Translation? Theory, Practice, Value"

Although the history of translation theory and practice has been distinguished by a range of concepts and strategies, two approaches have recurred so frequently as to be considered dominant models. The first can be called instrumental, treating translation as the reproduction or transfer of an invariant contained in or caused by the source text, whether its form, its meaning, or its effect. The second can be called hermeneutic, treating translation as the inscription of an interpretation, one among varying and even conflicting possibilities, so that the source text is seen as variable in form, meaning, and effect. This seminar will explore the continuing pertinence of these models for the study, practice, and evaluation of translation by examining the work of various theorists and commentators, including Jerome, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Eugene Nida, Gideon Toury, Antoine Berman, and Jacques Derrida. The discussions will be grounded in analyses of translations into and out of English from a variety of humanistic genres and text types, including the lyric poem, prose fiction, the screenplay, philosophy, and social history. Attention will be given to various theoretical concepts, including equivalence, norms, and ethics, as well as the fundamental relationship between theory and practice and the question of what constitutes a good translation. Throughout we will be concerned with the centrality of translation to the study of world literature.

Lawrence Venuti, professor of English at Temple University, is a translation theorist and historian as well as a translator from Italian, French, and Catalan. He is the author of The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation (1995; 2nd ed., 2008), The Scandals of Translation: Towards an Ethics of Difference (1998), Translation Changes Everything: Theory and Practice (2013), and Contra Instrumentalism: A Translation Polemic (2019). He is also the editor of Rethinking Translation: Discourse, Subjectivity, Ideology(1992), The Translation Studies Reader (2000; 3rd ed., 2012), and Teaching Translation: Programs, Courses, Pedagogies (2017). His translations include Antonia Pozzi’s Breath: Poems and Letters (2002), the anthology Italy: A Traveler’s Literary Companion (2003), Massimo Carlotto’s crime novel, The Goodbye Kiss (2006), and J. Rodolfo Wilcock’s collection of real and imaginary biographies, The Temple of Iconoclasts (2014). In 2008 he won the Robert Fagles Translation Prize for his version of Ernest Farrés’s Edward Hopper: Poems. His work has been supported by such agencies as the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institut Ramon Llull.

I.   Translation Commentary and the Theory of World Literature

Session 1: The Dominance of Instrumentalism in Translation Commentary

  • Alejandro Chacoff, “Solitaire,” The New Yorker, 4 and 11 January 2021.
  • Eliot Weinberger, 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei.
  • Mark Polizzotti, “The Magnetic Fields,” 4Columns, 16 October 2020.
  • Paul Maziar, “Signs of Life in a Surreal World: A Conversation with Charlotte Mandel on Breton and Soupault’s The Magnetic Fields,” Los Angeles Review of Books, 21 February 2021.

Session 2:  Translation as World Literature

  • Pascale Casanova, “Consecration and Accumulation of Literary Capital: Translation as Unequal Exchange” (2002),
  • Gisèle Sapiro, “French Literature in the World System of Translation.”
  • Case Study: Extract from Julio Cortázar, “Blow-up,” in The End of the Game and Other Stories, trans. Paul Blackburn.

II   A Brief History of Translation Theory and Practice

Session 3: The Rise of Instrumentalism in Antiquity

  • [Zhi Qian?], From the Preface to the Sutra of Dharma Verses (c. 220-252CE), trans. Haun Saussy.
  • Dao’an, From the Preface to A Collation of the Perfection of Great Wisdom Sutra” (c. 382), trans. Haun Saussy.
  • Jerome, “Letter to Pammachius” (395CE), trans. Kathleen Davis.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, “Translations” (1882), trans. Walter Kaufmann.
  • Case Study: Livius Andronicus, fragments from the Odissia (3rd century BCE), trans. David Camden.

Session 4: The Invariant and Cultural Assimilation

  • Nicolas Perrot d’Ablancourt, Prefaces to Tacitus (1640) and Lucian (1654), trans. L. Venuti.
  • Eugene Nida, “Principles of Correspondence.”
  • Lin Shu, Paratexts to A Record of the Black Slaves’ Cry to Heaven (1901), trans. R. David Arkush, Leo Ou-fan Lee, and Michael Gibbs Hill.
  • Case Study: Extract from Jacques Derrida, “Freud and the Scene of Writing,” trans. Alan Bass; extracts from Italo Calvino, Cosmicomics, trans. William Weaver.

Session 5: The Hermeneutic Model of Translation

  • Friedrich Schleiermacher, “On the Different Methods of Translating” (1813), trans. Susan Bernofsky.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Translations” (1819), trans. Sharon Sloan.
  • Case Study: Charles Baudelaire, “The Cat,” trans. Joanna Richardson; extract from Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman, Annie Hall (1977), Spanish trans. by José Luis Guarner.

Session 6: Style as Interpretation in Modernist Translation

  • Ezra Pound, “Guido’s Relations.”
  • Qu Qiubai and Lu Xun, “An Exchange on Translation” (1931-1932), trans. Chloe Estep.
  • Jorge Luis Borges, “The Translators of The One Thousand and One Nights” (1935), trans. Esther Allen.
  • Case Study: Catullus 56 and 70, trans. Peter Whigham (1969), Louis and Celia Zukofsky (1969), Charles Martin (1979).

Session 7: The Translator’s Agency in Social Formations

  • Gideon Toury, “The Nature and Role of Norms in Translation.”
  • André Lefevere, “Mother Courage’s Cucumbers: Text, System and Refraction in a Theory of Literature.”
  • Case Study: Italian Publishing Statistics; Carlo Lucarelli’s review of Edward Bunker’s No Beast So Fierce (1973) and Stefano Bortolossi’s Italian translation, Come una bestia feroce (2001).

Session 8: Translation Ethics and Cultural Innovation

  • Antoine Berman, “Translation and the Trials of the Foreign” (1985), trans. L. Venuti.
  • Lawrence Venuti, “Translation, Empiricism, Ethics,” in Rosemary Feal (ed.) Profession 2010,
  • Case Study: I. U. Tarchetti, Fantastic Tales (1992) and Fosca (1994), trans. L. Venuti, and reviews from The New Yorker and the New York Times Book Review.