Discuss: Colloquia

As our annual survey shows, IWL participants appreciate the unique opportunity to create intellectual networks with colleagues working on world literature all around the world. In prior years, we created optional "Affinity Groups" that typically met twice a week for the four weeks of the session. Many who participated in the Affinity Groups were enthusiastic about the opportunity they provided for intellectual networking and exchange, but others found it difficult to commit so much time to these groups. Therefore, we've developed the concept of Colloquia, which will meet just once a week during the session (with three or four papers presented each time).The Colloquia are now set as a required component of our program, ensuring that every participant will have the opportunity to present their work and actively engage with their fellow participants.

The Institute's Colloquia will provide the opportunity for our participants to present a paper within the general framework of one of seven World Literature topics:

  • Sociology of World Literature
  • World Literature and Production
  • World Literature and Translation
  • World Literature and Circulation
  • Postcolonialism and World Literature
  • World Cinema and World Literature
  • Politics, Poetics and World Literature.

Participants will be placed in an appropriate colloquium group based on their preferences and on abstracts of the work they would like to present that will be uploaded onto the application form in the section entitled "Writing sample".

Colloquia are groups led by one of our faculty participants. Between February 25, 2020 and March 15, 2020, IWL invites applications from our postdoctoral and faculty participants to act as colloquium group leader for the duration of our summer session. The group leader will be in charge of collecting the abstracts from the participants in the colloquium, organizing the weekly meetings, and sending the schedule to the group and to the IWL Assistant Director no later than June 1, 2020. After the program ends, the group leader will write a report about the group's activity and send it to IWL to be posted online for the use of next year's participants no later than September 1, 2020. Colloquium group leaders will receive $250 for their work organizing and chairing the weekly meetings of the colloquia. Those interested are invited to send their CV and cover letter to iwl@fas.harvard.edu. The IWL Executive Committee will then select the group leaders by April 1.

If you want to apply to be a group leader, check out our Colloquia Leaders Memo.

To get a better sense of how these colloquia groups function, but also of their benefits and challenges, check out the group reports put together by our group leaders following our fifth summer session at the University of Lisbon (2015):


  1. Archives, Premodernity, and World Literature
  2. Politics, Poetics, and World Literature 1
  3. Politics, Poetics, and World Literature 2
  4. Sociology, Production, and World Literature
  5. World Cinema and World Literature
  6. World Literature and Circulation
  7. World Literature and Translation