Writing transcultural literary history in a globalized world#

Curien Fund supported Symposium at SCAS in Uppsala#

Under the auspices of the Academia Europaea, which via its Curien funding provides financial support, the Stockholm Collegium, and the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS), which has kindly offered to act as host, the editorial team behind the 4-volume Literature: A World History (Wiley-Blackwell, 2022) organizes a two-day international symposium at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS), Uppsala, Sweden, to discuss the writing of transcultural literary-historical works.

A wide range of questions will be addressed: #

  • What can be the raison d’être of a world history of literature?
  • How can one secure the competence to transcend cultural and linguistic borders?
  • Is there a viable alternative to the use of periods when organizing an account of transcultural literary history?
  • How can one secure focus, fairness, and an adequate conceptual framework?
  • How does one handle oral literature and the interplay between orality and writing?
  • How can one do justice to transcultural topics by introducing transcultural comparisons?
  • How can one handle the topics of language situations, translation, and cross-cultural transfer?
  • How can one handle nationalisms and the influence of imperial cultures?

Speakers include:#

  • David Damrosch (Harvard) (zoom): "Literary History in a Global Age"
  • Anders Pettersson (Umeaa): "Motivations for World Histories of Literature"
  • Gunilla Lindberg-Wada (Stockholm): “LAWH as a child of its time/times past
  • Eileen Julien (Indiana University): “Discovery, the Joy of LAWH
  • Longxi Zhang (City University of Hongkong) (zoom): "What's So Special about LAWH?"
  • Harish Trivedi (Delhi University) (zoom): “How to Do LAWH All Over Again
  • Assaad Khairallah (American University Beirut): “The Local and the Global: What LAWH Taught me about Arabic Literature
  • Bo Utas (Uppsala): "Nationalisms and Imperial Cultures"
  • May Hawas (American University in Cairo and Cambridge) (zoom?): “Close Reading and History
  • Peter Hajdu (Neohelicon): “Problems of Geographical Divides in Presenting Classical Antiquity
  • Andrew James Johnston (Berlin Freie Universität): “Beowulf and Its Multiple Histories of World Literature
  • Lena Rydholm (Uppsala): “Some reflections on transcultural literary-historical works and LAWH: Where do we go from here? And why?
  • Chengzhou He MAE (Nanjing University): “New Challenges in Worlding Chinese Literature
  • Stephen Shapiro (Warwick) (zoom): “World-system, world-literature, world-culture: possibilities for the next phase
  • Theo D’haen MAE (Leuven) “World Literature, World Times, Worlds

The syposium is open to all members of the Academia Europaea wishing to attend, but registration well in advance is required to ensure that appropriate meeting conditions are arranged.

Theo D’haen MAE

Short report on the event by Prof. Theo D’haen:#

On 11 and 12 October 2023 the international workshop on “Writing Transcultural Literary History in a Globalized world” took place in the premises of the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS) at Uppsala, with financial support from the Hubert Curien Fund of the Academia Europaea, the Kungliche Humanistiska Vetenskaps-Samfundet i Uppsala, and SCAS.

Via in-person presentations or zoom, 16 internationally recognized experts on literary historiography reflected on the possibilities and impossibilities, and on the history, present, and future, of writing transcultural literary history. As general jumping-off point for the presentations, and the discussions ensuing, served the recent publication (2022) of the 4-volume Literature: A World History (Wiley Blackwell). Of the 16 speakers, 9 had served as general editors, volume editors, regional editors, and contributors to this multi-volume work. The 7 remaining speakers were chosen because of their extensive expertise in comparative work dealing with various parts of the globe – together, the 16 speakers covered all continents also dealt with in LAWH, with the sole exception of Oceania. The presentations gave rise to lively discussions. Of the 16 speakers, 5 are Members of Academia Europaea. The workshop was open to AE members via a zoom link.

The MAE co-organizer of the workshop (Theo D’haen) had beforehand contacted the present editor-in-chief (Alban Kellerbauer) of the AE journal European Review (ERW) and secured the latter’s agreement that a set of (selected) articles resulting from the Uppsala workshop be considered for publication, either as a special issue or as a FOCUS in a regular issue. Hitherto already 9 participants have indicated they will submit an article – as can be seen from the workshop program enclosed.

The organizers and participants of the workshop wish to thank AE, the Humanistiska Vetenskaps-Samfundet, and SCAS, for their generous financial support without which this scholarly challenging and fruitful exchange of ideas on the topic addressed, as well as the ERW publication to result from it, would not have been possible.

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