July 20-30

Emily Apter, "Untranslatability Studies?  If it exists, how should it be theorized?"

This seminar will interrogate whether there is something like a transdisciplinary field of untranslatability studies(or to borrow a term used by Brian Lennon and Rebecca Walkowitz, of “non-translation studies”) and if so, how it might be defined or geopolitically sited as a comparative praxis particularly in relation to regionalist divisionism: Europe/non-Europe, Global South/Global North, East/West, First World/Tricontinentalism. Drawing on Barbara Cassin’s notion of the “the untranslatable” activated in the Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon, we will examine select models of what she called “philosophizing in languages” in the work of Etienne Balibar, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Jean-Luc Nancy, Souleyman Bachir Diagne, Ali Benmakhlouf, François Jullien, Jacques Lezra, Benjamin Conisbee Baer, Emily Apter and others). We will interrogate more broadly the “trans” function, evident in translating (or failing to translate) nonbinary gender identities and subject positions; forms of cross-cultural relational practice and modes of transmediality. Anchoring our discussion of abstract issues and problems will be the analysis of specific translations; (short) case studies or literary texts that students, drawing on their diverse backgrounds, language competencies and interests will select and present.

Emily Apter is Julius Silver Professor of French and Comparative Literature andApter Chair of Comparative Literature at New York University. Her books include Unexceptional Politics: On Obstruction, Impasse and the Impolitic (Verso, 2018), Against World Literature: On The Politics of Untranslatability (2013), Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon (co-edited with Barbara Cassin, Jacques Lezra and Michael Wood) (2014); and The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature (2006). She is currently working on a book titled What is Just Translation? Her essays have appeared in Political Concepts, October, PMLA, Comparative Literature, Art Journal, Third Text, Paragraph, Boundary 2, Artforum and Critical Inquiry. In Spring 2019 she was a Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. In 2017-18 she served as President of the American Comparative Literature Association and spent fall 2014 as a Humanities Council Fellow at Princeton University. And in 2003-2004 she was a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient.

Session 1: Thinking in Untranslatables

  • Barbara Cassin, “Philosophising in Languages” Nottingham French Studies (2010).
  • Emily Apter, chapter “Interference” in Unexceptional Politics: On Obstruction, Impasse and the Impolitic (Verso 2018).
  • Ali Benmakhlouf, “Shariah”.

Session 2: The Migration of the Philosophical Text

  • Abdelfattah Kilito, preface to Abdessalam Benabdelali’s On Translation, and select chapters.

Session 3: Untranslatability and Naming the “Non-Citizen” Subject

  • Etienne Balibar et al. Entry on “The Subject” in Dictionary of Untranslatables.
  • Etienne Balibar, “Bourgeois Universality and Anthropological Differences", Citizen Subject: Foundations for Philosophical Anthropology (Fordham UP 2017).

Session 4: Deprovincializing “Theory” and Reparative Translation

  • Achille Mbembe, “Africa in Theory” in African Futures ed. Brian Goldstone and Juan Obarrio, Chicago UP, 2016.
  • Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Chap. “How a Language Becomes Philosophical” in Open to Reason: Muslim Philosophers in Conversation with the Western Tradition Columbia UP 2018.
  • Case Study: Discussion of Felwine Sarr’s work on African reparations: Towards a theory of reparative translation?

Session 5: Untranslatability and the Politics of Worlds

  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization (Harvard UP, 2012), Chap. 1 “The Burden of English,” Chap. 11, “Translation as Culture,” and Chap. 12 “Translating Into English” .
  • François Jullien, chapter “Translation” in The Book of Beginnings. (Yale UP 2015).
  • Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, “Amazonian Cosmopolitics” Radical Philosophy 182 (2013).

Session 6: Regioning Differences

  • James C. Scott, “Hills, Valleys and States: An Introduction to Zomia” in The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (Yale UP 2009).
  • Emily Apter, “Regioning Differences” in artMargins.
  • Benjamin Conisbee Baer, chapter 5 “India Outside India: Gandhi, Fiction and the Pedagogy of Violence,” Indigenous Vanguards: Education, Liberation, and the Limits of Modernism Columbia UP, 2019).

Session 7: Ecosophy and Ecotranslation

  • Discussion of Félix Guattari’s notion of écosophie.
  • Miachel Cronin, Eco-Translation and Ecology in the Age of the Anthropocene (Routledge, 2017).
  • Emanuele Coccia, chapter from The Life of Plants.
  • John Kinsella, “A Season in Hell,” An ecocidal retranslation of Delmore Schwartz’s English translation of Arthur Rimbaud’s poem Une saison en enfer.

Session 8: Tease: Translating (or Not) Humor and Memes

  • Lauren Berlant and Sianne Ngai, “Comedy is an Issue”.
  • Case studies: Slavs and Tatars, Wripped Scripped and Rob Rogers, “Enemy of the People: A Cartoonist’s Journey”.


Baidik Bhattacharya, "Literature at the Limit of World Literature: Colonial Histories and Critical Methods"

Situated in the aftermath of world literature debates over the last couple of decades, this seminar will address the way colonial histories from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries have shaped modern literary cultures. As part of the readings, we shall go through a range of materials—archival documents, critical-theoretical pieces, philosophical tracts and so on—to see how modern colonial governance produced some of the central methods that constituted literary studies as a discipline and also literature as its putative object. Modern colonialism functioned on two different registers: first, as local governance (involving philology, translation, comparative studies etc.); and second, as part of larger imperial geopolitics (producing the Indo-European hypothesis, textualization of cultures, literature as an autotelic category etc.). We shall argue as part of the seminar that our contemporary literary cultures have their roots in these global histories and practices, and in many crucial ways they still continue with some of the foundational assumptions of colonialism. In this seminar we shall critically reflect on these histories as constitutive moments in the field that we identify as the “literary,” and also on some of the ways we can decolonize literary theory. World literature thus is a point of departure for this seminar, an occasion to probe larger and global histories of literature, beyond and besides the confines of the “little Europe.” Readings will include material from the colonial archives and pieces by Immanuel Kant, William Jones, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schlegel, Honoré de Balzac and others; we shall also read more recent pieces by Raymond Schwab, Michel Foucault, Edward Said, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Jacques Rancière, David Damrosch, Emily Apter, Aamir Mufti, Siraj Ahmed, Pheng Cheah among others. 

Baidik Bhattacharya is Associate Professor at the Centre for the Study oBaidikf Developing Societies, Delhi, India. He is the author of Postcolonial Writing in the Era of World Literature: Texts, Territories, Globalizations (2018), and co-editor of The Postcolonial Gramsci(2012) and Novel Formations: The Indian Beginning of a European Genre (2018). His essays have appeared in Critical Inquiryboundary 2New Literary HistoryNovel: A Forum on FictionInterventions, and Postcolonial Studies among other places. Bhattacharya is currently working on his second monograph, provisionally titled Cultures of the Literary: Colonial Histories and Critical Methods. He serves on the editorial board of the journal Postcolonial Studies

Session 1: Setting the stage

  • David Damrosch, “Goethe Coins a Phrase,” What is World Literature? (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003).
  • Emily Apter, “Introduction,” Against World Literature: On the Politics of Untranslatability (London: Verso, 2013).

Recommended reading:

  • “Comparative literature/world literature: A discussion with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and David Damrosch,” Comparative Literature Studies, Vol. 48, No. 4 (2011).

Session 2: Reading culturally different texts

  • Warren Hastings, “To Nathaniel Smith, Esquire,” in Charles Wilkins (trans.), The Bhăgvăt-Gēētā, or Dialogues of Krĕĕshnă and Ărjŏŏn (London: C. Nourse, 1785).
  • William Jones, “On the Mystical Poetry of the Persians and the Hindus,” The Works of Sir William Jones (London: John Stockdale and John Walker, 1807).
  • Johann Wolfgang (von) Goethe, “On World Literature,” in Theo D’haen et al (eds.) World Literature: A Reader (London: Routledge, 2012).

Recommended reading:

  • Srinivas Aravamudan, “Introduction: Enlightenment Orientalism,” Enlightenment Orientalism: Resisting the Rise of the Novel (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012).

Session 3: Comparative philology and historicism

  • William Jones, “On the Poetry of the Eastern Nations,” Poems, Consisting Chiefly of Translations from the Asiatick Languages (Oxford: Clarendon, 1772).
  • William Jones, “The Third Anniversary Discourse, Delivered 2 February, 1786,” The Works of Sir William Jones (London: John Stockdale and John Walker, 1807).
  • Friedrich Schlegel, “Book III: Historical Ideas,” On the Language and Philosophy of the Indians in E.J. Millington (trans.) The Aesthetic and Miscellaneous Works of Frederick von Schlegel (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1849).

Recommended readings:

  • Michel Foucault, “Bopp” and “Language become Object,” The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences(London and New York: Routledge, 2005).
  • Maurice Olender, “Archives of Paradise,” and “Divine Vowels,” The languages of Paradise: Race, Religion, and Philology in the Nineteenth Century, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992).

Session 4: Languages of the world

  • H.T. Colebrooke, “On the Sanscrit and Prácrit Languages,” Asiatick Researches, Vol. 7 (1803).
  • Friedrich Max Müller, “Introduction,” A History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature (London: Williams and Norgate, 1860).

Recommended readings:

  • Raymond Schwab, “Europe Learns Sanskrit,” in The Oriental Renaissance: Europe’s Rediscovery of India and the East, 1680-1880, (trans.) Gene Patterson-Black and Victor Reinkin (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984).
  • Edward Said, “Projects,” Orientalism (London: Penguin, 2003).

Session 5: Translation and untranslatability

  • Thomas North, “The Prologue,” in Joseph Jacobs (ed.) The Earliest English Version of the Fables of Bidpai, “The Morall Philosophie of Doni” by Sir Thomas North (London; David Nutt, 1888).
  • Charles Wilkins, “Preface,” The Hĕĕtōpādēs of Vĕĕshnŏŏ-Sărmā (Bath: C. Nourse, 1787).
  • Wyndham Knatchbull, “The Mission of Barzouyeh to India” and “The Subject Matter of the Book of Kalila and Dimna,” from Kalila and Dimna, or The Fables of Bidpai (Oxford: W. Baxter, 1819).

Recommended readings:

  • Srinivas Aravamudan, “Discoveries of New Worlds, Talking Animals, and Remote Nations: Fontenelle, Bidpai, Swift, Voltaire,” Enlightenment Orientalism: Resisting the Rise of the Novel (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012).
  • Ros Ballaster, “The Indian fable: rational animals,” Fabulous Orients: Fictions of the East in England, 1662-1785 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).

Session 6 : Comparatism as method

  • Aamir Mufti, “Auerbach in Istanbul: Edward Said, Secular Criticism, and the Question of Minority Culture,” Critical Inquiry, Vol. 25, No. 1 (1998).
  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Crossing Borders,” Death of a Discipline (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003).

Recommended reading:

  • Baidik Bhattacharya, “On Comparatism in the Colony: Archives, Methods, and the Project of Weltliteratur,” Critical Inquiry, Vol. 42, No. 3 (2016).

Session 7: Ethical worlding

  • Pheng Cheah, “The New World Literature: Literary Studies Discovers Globalization,” What is a World? On Postcolonial Literature as World Literature (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016).
  • Siraj Ahmed, “The Colonial History of Comparative Method,” Archaeology of Babel: The Colonial Foundation of the Humanities (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2018).

Recommended reading:

  • Debjani Ganguly, “World-Making and Possible Worlds,” This Thing Called the World: The Contemporary Novel as Global Form (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016), 69-86.

Session 8: Aesthetic regime

  • Jacques Rancière, “The Politics of Literature,” Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics (trans.) Steven Corcoran (London: Continuum, 2010).
  • Baidik Bhattacharya, “Reading Rancière: Literature at the Limit of World Literature,” New Literary History, Volume 48, Number 3 (2017).

Recommended reading:

  • Honoré de Balzac, The Wild Ass’s Skin, (trans.) Helen Constantine (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).


Françoise Král, "Literature in a World Perspective: Undoing the Monoglossic Turn"

In this seminar we will reflect on the role and responsibility of literature today, in a globalized world. While standardization and the formatting of language and cultural practices are often identified as a consequence of an increasingly globalized world, literature, and in particular anglophone literature today opens up new vistas. 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 -- with monoglot anglophone writers, bilingual writers who were born or sometimes still live in a situation of diglossia -- from which it results that anglophone literature is written alongside other languages and other cultural contexts. This increasingly complex map of linguistic genealogies and cultural crisscrossings 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 : the ‘Globish’ (Cassin) -- a form of English simplified for the benefit of non-native speakers in technical and commercial dealings and transactions -- and 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 flow the 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, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Derrida, Edouard Glissant, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-Jacques Lecercle, Salikoko Mufwene) and literature (Cristina Garcia, Rudyard Kipling, V.S. Naipaul, Marlene Nourbese Philip).

Françoise Král is Professor of English and postcolonial studies at Université Paris Nanterre. Francoise KralHer research fields include postcolonial literatures and cultures, critical theory, contemporary 20th and 21st century Anglophone literature, diaspora studies, and more recently the digital humanities vs the precarious body, a topic on which she is coordinating a seminar series at the Collège International de Philosophie in Paris (2019-2020). She is the author of several books, including her monographs 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 is a founding member of the international interdisciplinary research network Diaspolinks and has edited 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), LMA (2018) and a special issue of The Journal of Postcolonial Writing due out in Fall 2019. 

Session 1: Rethinking Babel

  • Umberto Eco. The Search for the Perfect Language (translated by James Fentress, Oxford: Blackwell) chapter 1 “From Adam to Confusion Linguarum”.
  • George Orwell. 1984. Appendix.
  • Edouard Glissant. Poetics of Relation. Translated by Betsy Wing. Ann Arbor, 2010. “To build the Tower”.

Session 2: From colonial legacies to global perspectives: what is a global language?

  • Ngugi Wa Thiong’o. Decolonising the Mind : The Politics of Language in African Literature. London: James Currey, 1986. “The Language of African Literature”.
  • David Crystal. English as a Global Language. Second edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. “Why a global language?”.

Session 3: Uncovering foreign genealogies/rethinking national identity/retrieving silenced polyglot voices

  • Julia Kristeva. Stranger to Ourselves, translated by Leon S Roudiez. New York, 1991, Columbia University Press. “Toccata and Fugue for the Foreigner”.
  • Rudyard Kipling Kim. Penguin. Chapter 1. “Kim’s mother had been Irish too.”

Session 4: Mother tongues /Other tongues

  • V.S. Naipaul. The Enigma of Arrival, A Novel in Five Section. Picador 2002, Part One “Jack’s Garden”.
  • Derrida. Monolingualism of the Other; or the Prosthesis of Origin. Translated by Patrick Mensah. Stanford: Stanford University Press 1998.
  • Edouard Glissant. Poetics of Relation. Translated by Betsy Wing. Ann Arbor, 2010. “Expanse and Filiation”.
  • Cristina Garcia. Dreaming in Cuban. New York: Ballantine Books. 1993.

Session 5: The Stranger’s perspective/translation/translocations

  • Walter Mignolo. Local Histories/ Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border thinking. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000. “Bilanguaging love: thinking in between languages”.
  • Walter Benjamin, “The Task of the Translator”.

Session 6: "Complicating the universal"

  • Julia Kristeva. Stranger to Ourselves. Columbia University Press, New York: 1991.”Might not universality be our own foreigness?”.
  • Umberto Eco. The Search for the Perfect Language (translated by James Fentress, Oxford: Blackwell); Chapter XVI “The International Auxiliary Language”.

Session 7: Opacity, tuning in to the language

  • Marlene Nourbese Philip. “Discourse on the Logic of Language.”
  • Edouard Glissant. Poetics of Relation. Translated by Betsy Wing. Ann Arbor, 2010. “Dictate, Decree.”
  • Jonathan Safran Foer. Everything is Illuminated. Perennial, 2003.
  • Jean-Jacques Lecercle. A Marxist Philosophy of Language. Leiden: Brill, 2006. 

Session 8: Cultural resilience /Undoing the monoglossic turn

  • Salikoko Mufwene. The Ecology of Language Evolution. Cambridge University Press, 2001.
  • Gilles Deleuze,. Essays Critical and Clinical, translated by Daniel W Smith and Michael a Greco, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, “He stuttered”.
  • Françoise Král. “Polyglossing in English: The Diasporic Trajectories of the English Language.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Special issue “Diasporic Trajectories, Charting New Critical Perspectives”, November 2019.


Mads Rosendahl Thomsen, "Between nations: Migrant writing and the cultural meeting in the text"

Migrant writers often find themselves in a precarious situation: between cultures, between nations, between languages, and with an uncertain affiliation to literary cultures. But these challenges have also been turned into a creative resource for several writers whose works are characterized by investigating the space where a stable identity is not an option. This seminar will examine questions of exile, identity, language shifts and mixed languages as well as the poetics of migrant writing and the politics of migration. Authors include Xiaolu Guo, Junot Díaz, Herta Müller, Atiq Rahimi, Salman Rushdie, Edwidge Dandicat, Bharati Mukherjee, along with critical perspectives by Édouard Glissant, Rebecca Walkowitz, Edward W. Said and Kwame A. Appiah.

Mads Rosendahl Thomsen is Professor of Comparative Literature at Aarhus University, Denmark. Mads ThomsenHe is the author of Mapping World Literature: International Canonization and Transnational Literature (2008), The New Human in Literature: Posthuman Visions of Changes in Body, Mind and Society (2013), a co-author with Stefan Helgesson of Literature and the World (2019), and the editor of several books, including World Literature: A Reader (2012), The Posthuman Condition: Ethics, Aesthetics and Politics of Biotechnological Challenges (2012), Danish Literature as World Literature (2017), Literature: An Introduction to Theory and Analysis (2017), and the forthcoming The Bloomsbury Handbook of Posthumanism (2020). He has published in the fields of literary historiography, modernist literature, world literature, canonization, and posthumanism. Thomsen has taught at the Institute for World Literature (Harvard, 2013, and Copenhagen, 2017), and he is director of the Digital Arts Initiative (2017-) and director of the faculty research focus area Human Futures (2016-22), both at Aarhus University. He is a member of the Academia Europaea (2010-), the advisory board of the Institute for World Literature (2010-13, 2018-22), and of the executive committee of the International Comparative Literature Association (2016-22).

Session 1: Migrant writing introduction

  • Salman Rushdie: “Imaginary Homelands”, Imaginary Homelands. London 1992.
  • Salman Rushdie: “The Porter”, East-West: Stories. London 1994.
  • Rebecca L. Walkowitz: “The Location of Literature”, Contemporary Literature 47:4 (2006).
  • Herta Müller: The Passport. London 1989.

Session 2: Identity

  • Aleksandar Hemon: Nowhere Man. New York: 2003.
  • Kwame A. Appiah: “Rooted Cosmopolitanism”, The Ethics of Identity. Princeton: 2004.
  • Georg Brandes, Main Currents in 19th Century Literature, London 1901.

Session 3: Exile

  • Joseph Conrad: “Amy Foster”. Gutenberg.org.
  • Edward Said: “Reflections on Exile”, Reflections on Exile and Other Essays. Cambridge, Mass.: 1999.
  • Edouard Glissant: Poetics of Relation. Ann Arbor 1997.

Session 4: Geography and memory

  • Edwinge Danticat: Breath, Eyes, Memory. New York 1994.
  • Ben Okri: Starbook. London 2007.
  • Madhu Krishnan: “Negotiating Africa Now”, Transition 113 (2014).

Session 5: Mixed languages

  • Junot Díaz: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
  • Jamaica Kincaid: Mr. Potter, New York 2002.
  • Rebecca Walkowitz: “This is not your language”, Born Translated. New York: 2015.

Session 6: Language shifts

  • Xiaolu Guo: A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers. London 2007.
  • Atiq Rahimi: The Patience Stone. New York 2011.

Session 7: Poetics and politics of betweenness

  • Roberto Bolaño: 2666. New York 2008.
  • Caryl Phillips: “Colour Me English”, Colour Me English. London 2001.

Session 8: Recognition

  • Bharati Mukherjee: The Holder of the World. New York 1993.
  • Jacob Riis: How the other half lives. New York 2010.


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.


Tatiana Venediktova, "Exploring the Edges of the (European) World: American and Russian Literary Imaginations"

By way of interpretative and comparative play with pairs of classical texts from both traditions we shall explore patterns of literary imagination in what throughout the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries was considered (and considered itself) the cultural periphery of the European world. What did writers and poets make of the “artless, unenhanced” condition of their “land of living” (R. Frost)? Of potential yet untapped, of the capacity to be “extravagant” (H.D. Thoreau), of the courage at times to “come to a real verge” (D.H. Lawrence)? Also - of provincial limitations, obsession with mimetic desires? What do (the imaginative works of) Irving and Gogol have to say – to each other and to us, today - about the seductiveness and dangers of dreaming? Or those of Hawthorne and Chernishvesky –– about the virtues and risks of utopian communitarianism? Melville and Tolstoy –– about the experience of sociality? Melville and Dostoevsky –– about the paradoxes of mental underground? Whitman and Mayakovsky –– about defiant individualism going “En-Masse”? Stevens and Blok –– about radicalism aesthetic and political? Kerouac and Yerofeev about the opportunities and dead ends on the open road?

Tatiana Venediktova is Professor and Chair in the Department ofTatiana Venediktova Discourse and Communication Studies,Lomonosov Moscow State University, School of Philology. She works at the intersection of cultural communication studies, the history of literature, and comparative literature. She is author of The Poetry of Walt Whitman (1982), The Self-Made Man as Image and Profile. The Experience of American Culture (1993), Finding a Voice. The Poetic Tradition in America. (1994), “Conversation in American”: The Discourse of Bargaining in the American Literary Tradition (2003), Literature and Experience: The «Bourgeois Reader» as a Cultural Hero (2018). For the past two decades she has been director of the Fulbright Summer School in the Humanities held annually in Moscow. Her research interests are in European and American literature and culture, reception studies, history of reading, intercultural communication.

Session 1: Introduction. Literary Imagination: Cross-Cultural Rhymes

  • Franco Moretti, “Conjectures on World Literature” in Moretti, Distant Reading.
  • Caroline Levine, Forms. Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network. Princeton University Press 2015. (Introduction: The Affordances of Form).
  • Cyrus R. K. Patell, Cosmopolitanism and the Literary Imagination. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
  • Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, 1983.
  • J.J. A. Mooij, Fictional Realities: The Uses of Literary Imagination. Amsterdam/Philadelphia, 1993.

Session 2: Dream as Inebriation: Irving and Gogol

  • Nikolay Gogol, The Carriage.
  • Washington Irving, Rip Van Winkle.
  • Michaela Schrage-Früh, Philosophy, Dreaming and the Literary Imagination. Palgrave Macmillan 2016.

Session 3: Dream as Community Project: Hawthorne and Chernishevsky

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance.
  • Nikolay Chernishevsky, What is to be Done.
  • Irina Paperno, Chernyshevsky and the Age of Realism: A Study in the Semiotics of Behavior. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988.
  • Lauren Berlant, The Anatomy of National Fantasy. Hawthorne, Utopia, and Everyday Life. University of Chicago Press 1991.

Session 4: Underground Experience: Melville and Dostoyevsky

  • Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener.
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Underground Man.
  • Marshal Berman, Everything Solid Melts into the Air. The Experience of Modernity. 1982.

Session 5: Sociality Under Test: Melville and Tolstoy

  • Herman Melville, The paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids.
  • Leo Tolstoy, Master and Man.
  • Ilya Bendersky, “The Road Through a Blizzard: The Concept of ‘Journey/Discovery’ and the Search for Sociality in Leo Tolstoy’s Prose” (in Russian). New Literary Observer, 155 (2019, n.1).

Session 6: Heroics in the Cold: Blok and Stevens

  • Alexander Blok, The Twelve. The Intelligentsia and the Revolution.
  • Wallace Stevens, Snow Man. The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words.

Session 7: “Who is afraid of the merge?” Whitman and Mayakovsky

Session 8: Road Fictions: Kerouac and Yerofeev

  • Venedikt Erofeev, Moscow-Petushki.
  • Jack Kerouac, On the Road.