The Return of 'World Literature'?
Galin Tihanov is the George Steiner Professor of Comparative Literature at Queen Mary University of London. His research interests include Comparative Literature and Cultural History, especially Russian, German, and Central- and East-European Culture and Thought, World Literature, or the History of Ideas.
His talk "Scales of Comparison: The Paths of Comparative Literature and the Return of 'World Literature'" concluded this semester's SFB 1288 colloquium and traced the early flourishing, subsequent languishing, and, eventually, rapid rehabilitation of 'world literature' as a particular discourse on literature. The continuous history of 'world literature' as a discourse was interrupted by the long domination of 'comparative literature' which operates a different scale of comparison.
To understand why 'world literature' fails to gain prominence until the early 21st century, despite its early visibility from the 1770s to the mid-nineteenth century, it was necessary to explain the factors that facilitate the rise of 'comparative literature' as a competing prism, so Tihanov.
At the end of his talk he briefly addressed the return of 'world literature' as a discourse responding more adequately—though far from unproblematically—to a transnationally organized world.
Photos: Rebecca Moltmann