[New publication] Journal of World Literature – Volume 4, Issue 1, 2019. Special Issue: The Locations of (World) Literature: Perspectives from Africa and South Asia – Part I: Visions and Networks
Special Issue: The Locations of (World) Literature: Perspectives from Africa and South Asia – Part I: Visions and Networks
Edited by Francesca Orsini and Laetitia Zecchini
In this special issue:
Introduction, by Francesca Orsini and Laetitia Zecchini
That location matters for critics, readers but also texts, as Arvind Krishna Mehrotra’s quote suggests, is a deceptively simple point. To some readers, location as context and standpoint reveals and deepens a text’s possibilities, to other readers it constricts and confines them. Indeed, the apparent paradox of locatedness and open-endedness is at the heart of many writerly and critical reflections on location and literature, as is the idea that literature both inhabits and creates worlds. [open access: https://brill.com/view/journals/jwl/4/1/article-p1_1.xml]
Seeing through the Concept of World Literature, by Peter D. McDonald
Abstract: Less concerned with the concept of World Literature than with the promise and perils of conceptualization, this essay considers what experiencing some forms of writing as world literature might involve. Using J.M. Coetzee’s In the Heart of the Country (1977) as an illustrative example, it addresses questions of circulation, translation, writing systems, book history, and literary geography in the context of recent academic debates about world literary studies. It concludes by revisiting Rabindranath Tagore’s landmark 1907 essay “World Literature,” arguing that it remains an indispensable guide to experiential reading and anti-conceptual thinking.
Cosmopolitanism, Literary Nationalisms and Linguistic Activism: A Multi-local Perspective on Pulaar, by Mélanie Bourlet
Abstract: This article explores the relationship between cosmopolitanism and nationalism through the example of a transnational literature written in an African language, Pulaar, considered from a multi-located perspective. It seeks to understand to what extent a linguistically based transnational literary nationalism may be considered a form of “bottom-up cosmopolitanism” (Appadurai) that carries social aspirations. In the context of globalization, movements of linguistic revitalisation continue to grow and language has become a veritable tool for social action. This essay argues that, from a methodological standpoint, a more focused attention to the local and to translocal ties allows us to bring to light the connectivity of literature and its tendency to challenge institutionalized global literary geographies.
World Literature, Indian Views, 1920s–1940s, by Francesca Orsini
Abstract: “For any given observer,” David Damrosch argued in What is World Literature?, “even a genuinely global perspective remains a perspective from somewhere, and global patterns of the circulation of world literature take shape in their local manifestations.” Within world-system approaches that fix centres, peripheries and semiperipheries, or with approaches that consider world literature only that which circulates transnationally or “globally,” the relativizing import of this important insight remains inert or gets forgotten. As Indian editors and writers in the early decades of the twentieth century undertook more translations of foreign works and discussed the relationship between India and the world, overlapping understandings of world literature emerged in the Indian literary field. This essay explores three different visions of world literature from the same region and period but in different languages – English, Hindi, and Urdu – highlighting their different impulses, contexts, approaches, and outcomes in order to refine our notion of location. And whereas much of the recent debate and activities around world literature has revolved around the curriculum or around publishers’ series and anthologies, in the Indian case exposure to and discussion of literature from other parts of the world took largely place in the pages of periodicals. [open access: https://brill.com/view/journals/jwl/4/1/article-p56_4.xml]