July 1-11

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 Berne, 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

Session 2: The Birth of Nationalism

  • Herder, Johann Gottfried. Reflections on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind. Frank E. Manuel (ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968. 
  • Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. London: Verso, 2006.
  • Lévi-Strauss, Claude. “The Structural Study of Myth.” The Journal of American Folklore, 68:270 (Oct.-Dec. 1955).

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

  • Nussbaum, Martha C. “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism.” in Martha C. Nussbaum et al., For Love of Country?Joshua Cohen (ed.). Boston: Beacon Press, 2002.
  • Butler, Judith. “Universality in Culture.” in Martha C. Nussbaum et al., For Love of Country?Joshua Cohen (ed.). Boston: Beacon Press, 2002.
  • Nussbaum, Martha C. “Reply.” in Martha C. Nussbaum et al., For Love of Country? Joshua Cohen (ed.). Boston: Beacon Press, 2002.
  • Beck, Ulrich. TheCosmopolitan Vision. Cambridge: Polity, 2006.
  • Pollock, Sheldon et al. “Cosmopolitanisms.” Public Culture, 12:3 (Fall 2000).

Session 4: Whose Cosmopolitanism? Cosmopolitanism and the Other

  • Levinas, Emmanuel. Otherwise Than Being. Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP, 1981.
  • ----. Ethics and Infinity. Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP, 1985. 
  • Derrida, Jacques. On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness. London: Routledge, 2002. 
  • -----. Of Hospitality. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2000. 

Session 5: Alternative Communities – Alternative Stories?

  • Nancy, Jean-Luc. The Inoperative Community. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.
  • Agamben, Giorgio. The Coming Community. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009.


Session 6: Origins of World Literature: Goethe to Auerbach

  • Auerbach, Erich. “The Philology of World Literature.” in James I. Porter (ed.). Time, History, and Literature: Selected Essays of Erich Auerbach. New Jersey: PrincetonUniversity Press, 2014.
  • Pizer, John. “Goethe’s ‘World Literature’ Paradigm and Contemporary Cultural Globalization.” Comparative Literature, 52:3 (Summer 2000). 
  • Cheah, Pheng. “What is a World? On World Literature as World-Making Activity.” Daedalus, 137:3 (Summer 2008). 

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

  • Moretti, Franco. “Conjectures on World Literature.” in Christopher Prendergast (ed.). Debating World Literature.London: Verso, 2004.
  • -----. “More Conjectures.” New Left Review, 20 (Mar-Apr 2003). 
  • Berman, Jessica. Modernist Fiction, Cosmopolitanism, and the Politics of Community. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 

Session 8: Travellin' Books

  • Damrosch, David. What Is World Literature? Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003. 
  • -----. “Script Worlds, Writing Systems, and the Formation of World Literature.” Modern Language Quarterly, 68:2 (June 2007). 


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 cosmopolitaStefano Evangelista 2nism’s complex and sometimes fraught relationship with ideas of nationalism, globalisation and world 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’.


Ursula Heise, "Science Fiction and the Imagination of Planetary Futures"

This seminar will focus on science fiction as a genre with historical roots and current impacts that reach far beyond the Anglo-American realm with which it is often associated. We will explore when and under what conditions science fiction and its cousin, speculative fiction, arise in different regions, including East Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, and how these genres have spread across the media of novel, graphic novel, short story, TV serial, feature film, animated film, and video game. The literary, analytical, and theoretical readings will focus on how the futures of planet Earth and of different communities on Earth are envisioned. What utopian and dystopian visions of future social orders do these works hold out, and how do they engage with socioeconomic inequality? How are human individuals and communities reimagined as posthuman in the encounter with aliens, animals, or machines?  What role do biology, ecology, and technology – especially digital technologies and biotech – play in these visions? We will particularly emphasize recurrent narrative templates for the imagination of planetary futures that distinguish traditions of science fiction in and across national and regional literatures. 

Ursula K. Heise teaches in the Department of English and at the Institute of the Environment and SustainabilityUrsula Heiseat UCLA. Her research and teaching focus on contemporary literature; environmental culture in the Americas, Western Europe and Japan; narrative theory; media theory; literature and science; and science fiction. Her books include “Chronoschisms: Time, Narrative, and Postmodernism” (Cambridge University Press, 1997), “Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global” (Oxford University Press, 2008), “Nach der Natur: Das Artensterben und die moderne Kultur” (After Nature: Species Extinction and Modern Culture, Suhrkamp, 2010), and “Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species” (University of Chicago Press, 2016). Heise is the Managing Editor of “Futures of Comparative Literature: The ACLA Report on the State of the Discipline” (Routledge, 2017), and co-editor, with Jon Christensen and Michelle Niemann, of “The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities” (2017). She is editor of the bookseries “Literatures, Cultures, and the Environment’ with Palgrave-Macmillan and co-editor of the series “Literature and Contemporary Thought” with Routledge. She is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow and served as President of ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment) in 2011.

Session 1: Science Fiction – Histories and Theories

  • John Rieder, "On Defining SF, or not: Genre Theory, SF, and History".
  • Darko Suvin, "On the Poetics of the Science Fiction Genre".
  • Fredric Jameson, "Progress vs. Utopia, or, Can We Imagine the Future?" [1982 | essay | US].
  • Ursula K. Heise, "The Invention of Ecofutures" [2012 | essay | Germany].
  • Xia Jia, "What Makes Chinese Science Fiction Chinese?".

Short Survey Lecture: Modernization, Utopia, and Dystopia

Session 2: Planetary Nature in the Anthropocene

  • Eugene Stoermer and Paul Crutzen, "The Anthropocene" [2000 | essay | US-Netherlands].
  • Paul Crutzen, "Geology of Mankind" [2003 | essay | Netherlands].
  • Philip K. Dick, "Planet for Transients" [1953 | short story | US].
  • Ursula K. Le Guin, "Vaster than Empires and More Slow" [1971 | short story | US].
  • Stanislaw Lem, Solaris (excerpts) [1961 | novel | Poland].

Short Survey Lecture: British and American Science Fiction

Session 3: Cyberspace and Virtual Globality

  • Bruce Sterling, "Introduction" to Mirrorshades [1986 | essay | US].
  • William Gibson, "Burning Chrome" [1982 | short story | US].
  • Edmundo Paz Soldán, El delirio de Turing [2006 | novel-excerpts | Bolivia].
  • Chen Qiufang, “The Flower of Shazui" [2012 | short story | China].

Short Survey Lecture: Russian and Polish Science Fiction

Session 4: Planetary Cities

  • Isaac Asimov, “On Trantor” [1953 | 1 p. excerpt from Foundation | US].
  • Italo Calvino, "Trude," "Cecilia," and "Penthesilea" [1972 | excerpts from Le città invisibili (Invisible Cities) | Italy].
  • Christian Volckman, Renaissance [2006 | animated film | France].
  • Hao Jingfang, “Folding Beijing" [2012 | short story | China].

Short Survey Lecture: Chinese Science Fiction

Session 5: Posthuman Futures: Robots, Cyborgs, Mutants, Androids

  • Abe Kobo, "Program Card 2" (Sections 23-26) and "Interlude" from Inter Ice Age Four [第四間氷期, Dai-Yon Kampyōki [1959 | novel: excerpts | Japan].
  • Mamoru Oshii, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence [2004 | animated film | Japan].
  • William Gibson, “Googling the Cyborg" [2003 | essay | US].
    Short Survey Lecture: Japanese Science Fiction

Session 6: Imperialism and Resistance

  • Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., "Science Fiction and Empire" [2003 | essay | US].
  • Yoss [José Miguel Sánchez Gómez], Planet for Rent[Se alquila un planeta| 2001| novel: excerpts | Cuba.
  • Tarik Saleh, Metropia [2009 | animated film | Sweden].

Short Survey Lecture: Latin American Science Fiction

Session 7: Afrofuturisms

  • Mark Dery, "Black to the Future" [1993 | essay | excerpt: analysis only, interview optional].
  • Nnedi Okorafor, "From the Lost Diary of Treefrog7" [2009 | short story | US-Nigeria].
  • Efe Okogu, "Proposition 23" [2012 | short story | Nigeria].
  • Kodwo Eshun, "Further Considerations on Afrofuturism" [2003 | essay | UK-Ghana].

Short Survey Lecture: African Science Fiction

Session 8: Planetary Disasters and Climate Futures

  • Amitav Ghosh, “Stories” [2016 | essay from The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable| India].
  • Susan Sontag, "The Imagination of Disaster".
  • Roland Emmerich, The Day after Tomorrow [2004 | film | US].
  • Nghiem-Minh Nguyen-Vo, Nước / 2030 [2014 | film; Vietnam].


Héctor Hoyos, "World Literature between Historical and New Materialism"

Goethe’s ethical, cosmopolitan approach to World Literature is more frequently cited than Marx and Engels’s political, revolutionary approach. Our seminar will begin by examining the emergence of Weltliteratur in the latters’ “Manifesto of the Communist Party” (1848) as a function of the heightened exchange of goods, the rise of a transnational bourgeois conscience, and the call for an opposing, equally transnational workers’ movement. In this spirit, we will devote the first module of our seminar to the study of the notion of World Literature from the vantage point of “historical materialism.” With its emphasis on class struggle and false consciousness, the eponymous critical mode inaugurated by Marx and Engels would invite us to examine the extent to which World Literature is subservient or resistant to ideology.

A second module of the course considers a more recent methodological alternative posed by “new materialism,” a host of theories that, under the aegis of Spinoza, questions the separation of subject and object, nature and culture. As we shall see, these approaches have the salutary effect of highlighting the long-underexamined role of nonhumans—objects, animals, plants, the earth—in all domains, literature included. However, they often de-politicize, flatten history, and forget human labor altogether.

The third movement in our seminar considers a synthesis of these two tendencies in “transcultural materialism.” My latest work defines it as a praxis:the non-instrumental use of stories and literary language to upset the nature-culture divide, affect our rapport to things, and reassess our place in human/nonhuman history. The corpus that exemplifies this approach, in conversation with other traditions, comes from Latin America. The region’s semi-peripheral condition allows it to be on both sides of the extractivist divide. It is a site that produces raw material and also one that commands added value via the exploitation of humans and nonhumans. Literature reflects, but also enables these positions.

We will close our exploration by focusing on the cases of prosopopeia and “meat.” More than a rhetorical device, the former obfuscates the continuity between humans and nonhumans. The latter is, from its very enunciation, an act that puts the human species first (as if “flesh” and “meat” were somehow organically different). To read against the grain such uses of language, and the more complex works of fiction and poetry that take after them, allows us to appreciate how literature may think the world anew.

Héctor Hoyos is an Associate Professor of Latin American literature Hoyosand culture at Stanford University. He holds a Ph.D. in Romance Studies from Cornell University, and degrees in Philosophy and Literature from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá. He was recently an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at Freie Universität Berlin. At Stanford, Hoyos co-chairs the research group materia, on Latin Americanist and comparative post-anthropocentrisms. Articles by Hoyos have appeared in Comparative Literature Studies, Third Text, Chasqui, Novel: A Forum on Fiction, JWL,andRevista Iberoamericana, among others. His book, Beyond Bolaño: The Global Latin American Novel(Columbia UP, 2015), is the first monographic, theoretical study of Latin American novelistic representations of globalization of its kind. He edited the special journal issues "Theories of the Contemporary in South America"for Revista de Estudios Hispánicos (with Marília Librandi-Rocha, 2014) and “La cultura material en las literaturas y cultura iberoamericanas de hoy” for Cuadernos de literatura (2016). The summer course takes after his current manuscript, Things with a History: Transcultural Materialism in Latin America forthcoming from Columbia University Press (2019).

Session 1: Introduction

Session 2: Historical Materialism

  • Terry Eagleton, “The Author as Producer” in Marxism and Literary Criticism.
  • Jorge Icaza. Huasipungo.
  • Bertolt Brecht, selected poems.

Session 3: New Materialism I

  • Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern.
  • Bruno Latour, “Powers of the Facsimile. A Turing Test on Science and Literature,” in: Intersections: Essays on Richard Powers
  • Rita Felski, The Limits of Critique.

Session 4; New Materialism II

  • Richard Powers, The Overstory.
  • Diana Coole and Samantha Frost. New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics.
  • Morton, Tim. Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World.

Session 5: Transcultural Materialism I

  • Ortiz Fernando,. “Cuban Counterpoint.”
  • Antonio José Ponte, “Meaning to Eat.”
  • Amitav Gosh, selections.

Session 6: Transcultural Materialism II

  • César Aira, “God’s Tea Party.” The Musical Brain and Other Stories. Spanish original “El té de Dios” in Relatos reunidos.
  • César Aira, “The Cart.” The Musical Brain and Other Stories. Spanish original “El carrito” in Relatos reunidos.
  • Jane Bennett, “The Force of Things: Steps toward an Ecology of Matter. Political Theory”
  • Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things.
  • Franz Kafka, “The Worry of the Father of the Family.” Kafka’s Selected Stories. In the German original: http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/buch/-9763/25e

Session 7: Transcultural Materialism III

  • Pablo Neruda, “Ode to Things” and other poems.
  • Sherry Turkle, “Introduction: The Things that Matter,” and “What Makes an Object Evocative?” in Evocative Objects: Things We Think With.
  • Roberto Bolaño, “The Return.”

Session 8: Conclusions

  • Hector Hoyos, “Global Supply Chain Literature vs. Extractivism” in Re-Mapping Worldliterature.
  • Vladimir Ilich Lenin, “Dialectic and Eclecticism. ‘School’ and ‘Apparatus.’” Collected Works 32. Available here: http://www.marx2mao.com/PDFs/Lenin%20CW-Vol.%2032.pdf
  • Alejandro Zambra, “Memories of a Personal Computer” in My Documents.


B. Venkat Mani, "Bibliomigrancy: From Empires of Books to Republics of Letters"

We are living at a time when the “book” and the “library”—as institutions of literacy—are rapidly changing and exerting hitherto unforeseen influence on the field of literary studies. In addition, technological advancements, mass migration of people, and the unevenness of literary playfield are calling upon us to rethink our understanding of world literature. By suturing conceptual and ideological constructions of world literature with print- and digital cultural histories, this seminar follows the dissemination of world literature in the public sphere, and the creation of a world literary readership. Beyond the academic critic, we will focus on state-sponsored translation projects, censorship authorities, publishers and librarians, public literary institutions such as the Nobel Prize and literary festivals, to understand the political charge of the world literary catalog, and the public lives of books.

Central to the seminar is migration as a comparative critical framework, which we will explore as a way of understanding the political and cultural organization of human beings: from colonial empires, to contemporary republics. We will investigate how forms of human migration—willful and forced—impact “Bibliomigrancy,” the physical and virtual movements of books and literature. We will appraise how multiple meanings of world literature unfold when considered in tandem with contested meanings of “shared” and “unshared” in the larger world literary sphere.

B. Venkat Mani is Professor of German, and Director of the Center for South AsiaMani at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research and teaching focus on 19th to 21st Century German literature and culture, migrants and refugees in the German and European context, book and digital cultural histories, world literature, and theories of cosmopolitanism, globalization, post-colonialism, and transnationalism. He is the author of 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 University Press, 2017), which won the German Studies Association’s DAAD Book Prize for Best Book in Germanistik and Cultural Studies. His articles have appeared in ArgumentEdition Text+KritikJournal of World LiteratureGegenwartsliteraturGerman QuarterlyPMLA, among others. He has co-edited special issues of Modern Language QuarterlyTRANSIT, and Monatshefte, and is associate editor of the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature (forthcoming). He is working on a new book project, Addresses of our Last Homes: Global Archives of Refugees. Recent fellowships and grants include Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Fellowship, Mellon Foundation’s Sawyer Seminar Grant on his project “Bibliomigrancy,” and most recently a visiting fellowship at the Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung Berlin, and a Title VI National Resource Center Grant for Center for South Asia from the US Department of Education. 

Session 1: Introduction: Public Lives of Books

  • B. Venkat Mani, Recoding World Literature (“World Literature as a Pact with Books”)
  • Martin Puchner, The Written World (“Gutenberg, Luther, and the New Public of Print”)
  • YouTube: “The Medieval Helpdesk”; “Signs-Books-Networks”; “Did You Know the Book”; “The Joy of Books”

Session 2: Oration and Codification

  • David Damrosch, “Scriptworlds: Writing Systems and the Formation of World Literature”
  • Caroline Levine, “The Great Unwritten: World Literature and the Effacement of Orality”
  • A.K. Ramanujan, “Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation”

Session 3: Publication and Distribution

  • Urvashi Butalia, “Oxygen”
  • Robert Darnton, “Google and the Future of Books”
  • Tim Wu, “What Ever Happened to Google Books?”

Session 4: Translation and Mediation

  • William Jones, “Translator’s Preface” to Sacontalá, or the Fatal Ring
  • Francesca Orisini, “The Multilingual Local in World Literature”
  • Rebecca Walkowitz, Born Translated (“The Theory of World Literature Now”)
  • UNESCO, “Index Translationum”

Session 5: Collection and Classification

  • Walter Benjamin, “Unpacking My Library”
  • Hermann Hesse, “A Library of World Literature”
  • Adam Kirsch, “Who Gets to Claim Kafka? The Israeli and German Archives Battled over Kafka”

Session 6: Censorship and Suppression

  • Vinay Dharwadker, “Censoring the Ramayana”
  • Rebecca Knuth, Libricide (“Books, Libraries, and the Phenomenon of Ethnocide”)
  • Louise E. Robbins, The Dismissal of Miss Ruth Brown (“'America’s Ideal Family Center,' Its Librarian, and her Library”)
  • Salman Rushdie, “On Censorship”

Session 7: Access and Recognition

  • Pascale Casanova, The World Republic of Letters (“The Literary World”)
  • Toni Morrison, “The Nobel Lecture”
  • Orhan Pamuk, “My Father’s Suitcase”
  • Susan Sonntag, “Literature is Freedom”

Session 8: From Empires to Republics: Biblio/Migration, Refuge, Memorialization

  • American Library Association, “Libraries Respond: Immigrants, Refugees, and Asylum Seekers”
  • 1947 | Partition Archive
  • Fled to Europe Alone | The Poetry Project Berlin


Lawrence Venuti, "Translation Theory and Practice: Instrumental vs. Hermeneutic Models"

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 and practice 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, and philosophy. Attention will be given to various theoretical concepts, including equivalence, norms, and ethics, as well as the fundamental relationship between theory and practice. 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.

Part I: Translation Commentary and the Theory of World Literature

Session 1: The Dominance of Instrumentalism in Translation Commentary

  • Denis Kelly, “Test of Translation III: Cavafy,” Caterpillar2 (1968).
  • Eliot Weinberger, 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei (1987; New York: New Directions, 2016).
  • Susan Stewart, “Giacomo Leopardi,” in Martha Collins and Kevin Prufer (eds) Into English(Minneapolis, MN: Graywolf, 2017).

Session 2: Translation as World Literature

  • Pascale Casanova, “Consecration and Accumulation of Literary Capital: Translation as Unequal Exchange” (2002), trans. Siobhan Brownlie, in Mona Baker (ed.) Critical Readings in Translation Studies (Abingdon: Routledge: 2010).
  • Gisèle Sapiro, “French Literature in the World System of Translation,” trans. Jody Gladding, in Christie McDonald and Susan Rubin Suleiman (eds) French Global: A New Approach to Literary History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010).
  • Case Study: Extract from Julio Cortázar, “Blow-up,” in The End of the Game and Other Stories, trans. Paul Blackburn (New York: Pantheon, 1967).

Part II: A Brief History of Translation Theory and Practice

Session 3: The Rise of Instrumentalism in Antiquity

  • Jerome, “Letter to Pammachius” (395CE), trans. Kathleen Davis.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, “Translations” (1882), trans. Walter Kaufmann.
  • Zhi Qian, “Lacking in Felicity,” and Dao An, “Five Instances of Losing the Source; Three Difficulties,” trans. Diane Yue, in Martha Cheung, An Anthology of Chinese Discourse on Translation (Volume One): From the Earliest Times to the Buddhist Project(Manchester: St. Jerome, 2006; Abingdon: Routledge, 2014).
  • Case Study: Livius Andronicus, fragments from the Odissia (3rd century BCE), trans. David Camden (1999).

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” (1964).
  • Lin Shu, [Paratexts to A Black Slave’s Cry to Heaven(1901)],” trans. R. David Arkush, Leo O. Lee, and Michael Gibbs Hill.
  • Case Study: Extract from Jacques Derrida, “Freud and the Scene of Writing,” trans. Alan Bass (1978); extracts fromItalo Calvino, Cosmicomics, trans. William Weaver (1968).

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 (1972); extract from Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman, Annie Hall (1977), Spanish trans. by José Luis Guarner (1981).

Session 6: Style as Interpretation in Modernist Translation

  • Ezra Pound, “Guido’s Relations” (1929).
  • Jorge Luis Borges, “The Translators of The One Thousand and One Nights” (1935), trans. Esther Allen.
  • Qu Qiubai, “On translation—A letter to Lu Xun” (1931), trans. Yau Wai Ping; Lu Xun, “A reply to Qu Qiubai” (1931), trans. Leo Tak-hung Chan; Qu Qiubai, “Again on translation—A reply to Lu Xun” (1932), trans. Yau Wai Ping, in Leo Tak-hung Chan (ed.) Twentieth-Century Chinese Translation Theory (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2004).
  • 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” (1978/1995).
  • André Lefevere, “Mother Courage’s Cucumbers: Text, System and Refraction in a Theoryof Literature” (1982).
  • 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 (2000),
  • Lawrence Venuti, “Translation, Empiricism, Ethics,” in Rosemary Feal (ed.) Profession 2010 (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2010.
  • Case Study: I. U. Tarchetti, Fantastic Tales (1992) and Fosca (1994), trans. L. Venuti, and reviews from The New Yorkerand the New York Times Book Review.


Rebecca Walkowitz, "Close Reading and World Literature"

How does thinking about the expansive translation and circulation of literary texts change the way we operate as readers?  This seminar will take up a number of important discussions about close reading and world literature, including ongoing conversations about the scale of the literary work, the relationship among editions and translations, multilingualism, reading in translation, collaborative reading, reading at a distance, very close reading, distant reading, not-reading, etc.  We’ll consider these critical statements alongside literary works that address themselves to multiple audiences, to translators, and to readers in translation.  We’ll also consider how concepts such as fluency, native reading, foreign reading, and indeed “reading” as such are shaped and transformed by new paradigms of world literature.   

Rebecca L. Walkowitz is Professor and Chair in the English Department and Affiliate Faculty in Rebecca Walkowitz 2Comparative Literature at Rutgers University. She is the author of Cosmopolitan Style: Modernism Beyond the Nation (2006) and Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature (2015), which received Honorable Mention for the first annual Matei Calinescu Prize from the MLA and has been translated or is forthcoming in Danish, Polish, Hungarian, and Japanese. She is also the editor or coeditor of 8 books, including A New Vocabulary for Global Modernism(2016), a volume of essays coedited with Eric Hayot for the Modernist Latitudes series at Columbia University Press. A New Vocabulary collates essays by leading scholars working at the conjunction of world literature and modernist studies. These essays show how the intellectual paradigms we’ve long associated with modernism are transformed, and how new paradigms emerge, when modernism’s archive extends beyond the European center. Professor Walkowitz is coeditor and cofounder of the book series “Literature Now” and has served on the executive committees of the American Comparative Literature Association, the Society for Novel Studies, and the Modernist Studies Association, for which she served as President in 2014-15. Her current book project, “Future Reading,” focuses on the concept of the anglophone and the representation of world languages in contemporary writing. Her web site is here.

Session 1: What Is Reading I? Close Reading, Distant Reading, Close Reading at a Distance

  • J.M. Coetzee, from Diary of a Bad Year(London: Harvill, 2007)
  • Jane Gallop, “Close Reading in 2009” in ADE Bulletin149 (2010)
  • Daniel Hack, “Close Reading at a Distance: The African-Americanization of Bleak House” in Novel 42 (Summer 2008)
  • Stefan Helgesson, Clarice Lispector, J.M. Coetzee and the Seriality of Translation” in Translation Studies 3, no. 3 (2010)


Franco Moretti, “Conjectures on World Literature” in Moretti, Distant Reading, 43-62

Session 2: What Is Reading II?  Abstract Reading, Reading Genre, Reading Paratext

  • Samuel Beckett, from Molloy(New York: Grove, 1955)
  • Christian Thorne, “The Sea is Not a Place: or, Putting the World Back into World Literature” in boundary 2 40: 2 (2013): 53-67
  • Loren Glass, “The New World Literature” in Counter-Culture Colophon


Pascale Casanova, from The World Republic of Letters, 324-347

Session 3: What Is a Language I? Monolingualism, Multilingualism, Fluency

  • Jamaica Kincaid, from Mr. Potter
  • Yasmin Yildiz, from Beyond the Mother Tongue
  • Naoki Sakai, “How Do We Count a Language? Translation and Discontinuity” in Translation Studies 2, no. 1 (2009)


Caroline Levine, from “The Great Unwritten: World Literature and the Effacement of Orality” in Modern Language Quarterly 74, no. 2 (2013)

Session 4: What Is a Native Reader?  What Is a Foreign Reader? 

  • Mohsin Hamid, from The Reluctant Fundamentalist(Orlando: Harvest, 2008)
  • David Bellos, “Native Command: Is Your Native Language Really Yours” in Is That a Fish in Your Ear
  • Lawrence Venuti, “How to Read a Translation” in Translation Changes Everything


Edith Grossman, “Translating Poetry” in Why Translation Matters

Session 5: What Is a Language II? Francophone, Sinophone, Anglophone, Hispanophone

  • Roberto Bolaño, from The Savage Detectives, trans. Natasha Wimmer
  • Muriel Barbery, et al., “Toward a ‘World Literature’ in French,” trans. Daniel Simon in Contemporary French and Francophone Studies 14, no. 1 (2010).
  • Yucong Hao, “The Sinophone” in http://stateofthediscipline.acla.org/entry/sinophone.
  • Robert Young, “The Postcolonial Comparative” in PMLA 128, no. 3 (2013)


Charles Forsdick, “From ‘Littérature Voyageuse’ to ‘Littérature-Monde”: The Manifesto in Context” in Contemporary French and Francophone Studies 14, no. 1 (2010)

Session 6: What Is a Work?

  • Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries, “Bust Down the Doors!,” “Traveling to Utopia,” and “Honeymoon in Beppu” (all available @ www.yhchang.com)
  • Adam Thirlwell, from Multiples(Portobello, 2013)
  • Peter McDonald, “Ideas of the Book and Histories of Literature” in PMLA 212, no. 1 (2006)

Session 7: What Is a Translation?

  • Jonathan Safran Foer, from Tree of Codes, front matter (incl copyright page)
  • N. Katherine Hayles, “Combining Close Reading and Distant Reading: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codesand the Aesthetic of Bookishness” in PMLA 128, no. 1 (January 2013)
  • Sharmila Cohen and Paul Legault, “Manifesto of the New Translation,” http://distranslation.com/index.php?/folder-name/the-new-translation-man...
  • Sharmila Cohen and Paul Legault, from The Sonnets: Translating and Rewriting Shakespeare

Session 8: What Is Foreign Writing?  What Is Native Writing? 

  • Meena Alexander, “Questions of Home” in Poetics of Dislocation
  • Junot Díaz, “The Pura Principle” in This Is How You Lose Her
  • Ben Lerner, from Leaving the Atocha Station, Coffee House Press, 2011


Francesca Marciano, “The Other Language” in The Other Language.