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Concept Laboratory: Approaches To World Literature

Jun 25, 2012 - Jun 27, 2012

The three-day concept laboratory Approaches to World Literature consists of intensive internal discussions on the basis of talks held by the participants. For participation, please register at Part of the event is the public panel discussion World Literature in the 21st Century in the evening of June 26. 

Program of the Concept Laboratory:

Monday, June 25 – Chair: JOACHIM KÜPPER, Freie Universität Berlin
Freie Universität Berlin, “Seminarzentrum“, lecture hall L 113, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin
2:00-3:20 p.m. 

JÉRÔME DAVID, Université de Genève
The Four Genealogies of «World Literature»
(presented by CHRIS FENWICK)

3:20-3:35 p.m. Break
3:35-4:55 p.m.

AYMAN EL-DESOUKY, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Beyond Spatiality: Theorising the Local and Untranslatability as Comparative Critical Method
(presented by CHRISTIAN JUNGE)

4:55-5:10 p.m. Break
5:10-6:30 p.m.

JANE NEWMAN, University of California, Irvine
Political Philology: A Point of Departure for World Literature (Erich Auerbach, 1952)
(presented by CHRISTIAN A. WOLLIN)

Tuesday, June 26 – Chair: IRMELA HIJIYA-KIRSCHNEREIT, Freie Universität Berlin
Freie Universität Berlin, “Seminarzentrum“, lecture hall L 115, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin

11:00 a.m.-12:20 p.m.


ROBERT J.C. YOUNG, New York University
World Literature and Language Anxiety
(presented by SUSANNE KAISER)

12:20-2:20 p.m. Break
2:20-3:40 p.m.

MITSUYOSHI NUMANO, University of Tokyo
Shifting Borders in Contemporary Japanese Literature
(presented by HANA SCHELTAT)

3:40-4:00 p.m. Break
4:00-5:20 p.m.

DAVID DAMROSCH, Harvard University
Scriptworlds: Global Scripts and the Formation of World Literature
(presented by SARAH WOLLIN)

5:20-6:00 p.m. Break
6:15-7:45 p.m.

Public Panel Discussion & Reception (lecture hall KL 32/123, Habelschwerdter Allee 45)
World Literature in the 21st Century I Weltliteratur im 21. Jahrhundert

Wednesday, June 27 – Chair: KLAUS W. HEMPFER, Freie Universität Berlin
Freie Universität Berlin, Seminarzentrum, lecture hall L 115, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin

10:30-11:50 a.m.

On Bookstores, Suicides, and the Global Marketplace. East Asia in the Context of World Literature
(presented by OLIVER HARTMANN)

11:50-12:00 p.m. Break
12:00-1:20 p.m. 

C. RAJENDRAN, University of Calicut
The Actual and the Imagined: Perspectives and Approaches in Indian Classical Poetics

1:20-3:20 p.m. Break
3:20-4:40 p.m.

VILASHINI COOPPAN, University of California, Santa Cruz
Codes for World Literature: Network Theory and the Field Imaginary
(presented by GIGI ADAIR)

4:40-4:55 p.m. Break
4:55-6:15 p.m.

JOACHIM KÜPPER, Freie Universität Berlin
Some Remarks on World Literature
(presented by JENS ELZE)

The conference's program can be downloaded here.


Participants of the Concept Laboratory:


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Vilashini Cooppan (University of California, Santa Cruz)


Further information will follow.

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David Damrosch is Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature and Chair of the Department of Comparative Literature at Harvard University, and is a past president of the American Comparative Literature Association. His books include What Is World Literature? (2003),The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh (2007), and How to Read World Literature (2009). He is the founding general editor of the six-volume Longman Anthology of World Literature (2d ed. 2009) and is also co-editor of The Princeton Sourcebook in Comparative Literature (Princeton, 2009), of Xin fangxiang: bijiao wenxue  yu shijie wenxue duben [New Directions: A Reader of Comparative and World Literature], Peking U. P., 2010, and of The Routledge Companion to World Literature (2011). He is the founding director of the Institute for World Literature (, which holds its second annual session this summer in Istanbul.

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Jérôme David is Professor of French Literature at the University of Geneva. His fields of study include the comparative history of literature and social sciences and the global history of literature. He has published a book on the social history of «novelistic types» in nineteenth-century French literature, entitled Balzac, une éthique de la description (2010) ; and, more recently, a book on the history of the aesthetic category of «world literature» from Goethe to the present day: Spectres de Goethe. Les métamorphoses de la «littérature mondiale» (Paris, Les Prairies ordinaires, 2011).

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Ayman El-Desouky is Senior Lecturer in Modern Arabic and Comparative Literature and Chair of the Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS) at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), the University of London. He studied Comparative Literature at the American University in Cairo and the University of Texas at Austin. He has lectured on World Literature and American Literature at the University of Texas at Austin (1993-1995) and on Arabic Language and Literature at the Johns Hopkins University (1995-1996) and at Harvard University (1996-2002). His most recent publications include: “Heterologies of Revolutionary Action: On Historical Consciousness and the Sacred in Mahfouz’s Children of the Alley”, Journal of Postcolonial Writing (47.4 September 2011) and “Ego Eimi: Kerygma or Existential Metaphor? Frye, Bultmann and the Problem of Demythologizing”, Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée (34.2 June 2007). He is currently preparing two short monographs on Questions of Untranslatability: Toward a Comparative Critical Method and Connective Agency and the Aesthetics of the Egyptian Revolution, and a book-length study on Hermeneutics of Proclamation and Sacred Discourse in the Modern Arabic Novel for Edinburgh University Press.

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Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit has been Professor of Japanology (Literature and Cultural Studies) at Freie Universität Berlin since 1991, and in November 2010 she became Director of the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies at Freie Universität. Prior to this, she was Associate Professor for Japanese Studies at Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo (1985/86), and Professor for Contemporary Japanese Studies at Trier University from 1986 to 1991. For eight years (1996-2004) she was Director of the German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ) in Tokyo, and in 1992 she was awarded the Leibniz Prize of the DFG.Research interests: Modern and Contemporary Japanese Literature; Comparative Literature; Sociology of Language; Cultural and Literary Semiotics; Methodology, and the History of Japanese Studies. Series Editor: 1990–2000 – Japanische Bibliothek im Insel Verlag (Japanese Library, Insel Publ., Frankfurt), 34 volumes; 1994–present – Iaponia Insula: Studien zu Kultur und Gesellschaft Japans, Munich: Iudicium Publ., 25 volumes as of 2010. Publications: Numerous monographs, book chapters, articles, and reviews in German, Japanese, and English, including: Rituals of Self-Revelation: Shishosetsu as Literary Genre and Socio-Cultural Phenomenon. Cambridge, Mass. 1996 (German version 1981, expanded ed. 2005, Jap. version 1992); ed.: Canon and Identity: Japanese Modernization Reconsidered: Trans-Cultural Perspectives. Munich 2000).

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Joachim Küpper is Professor of Romance Philology and Comparative Literature at Freie Universität Berlin. He is the Director of the Dahlem Humanities Center at Freie Universität Berlin. He was granted the Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz Award of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft in 2001. In 2009 he received an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council. He is the general editor of Poetica, and a co-editor of Romanistisches Jahrbuch. He is a member of Leopoldina/ German National Academy of Sciences and a corresponding member of the Goettingen Academy of Sciences. He sits on the Scientific Committee for the German Academies’ Research Programme, and on the Standing Committee on Research of the German University Presidents’ Conference (HRK). His focus is on Romance Literatures, Theory of Literature and Arts. His publications include:
Ästhetik der Wirklichkeitsdarstellung und Evolution des Romans von der französischen Spätaufklärung bis zu Robbe-Grillet, Stuttgart 1987; Diskurs-Renovatio bei Lope de Vega und Calderón, Tübingen 1990; Petrarca. Das Schweigen der Veritas und die Worte des Dichters, Berlin/New York 2002; Zum italienischen Roman des 19. Jahrhunderts. Foscolo, Manzoni, Verga, D’Annunzio, Stuttgart 2002. You will find further publications here.

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Jane O. Newman is Professor of Comparative Literature at UC Irvine (USA), where she teaches Renaissance and Early Modern Comparative Studies. She is a founding member of the UC Irvine Group for the Study of Early Cultures. Newman’s first two books, Pastoral Conventions (Hopkins, 1990) and The Intervention of Philology (North Carolina, 2000), discuss the German 17th century; she has also published essays on 16th and 17th century English, German, and neo-Latin literature and culture and the disciplinary history of Renaissance and Baroque Studies. Benjamin’s Library: Modernity, Nation, and the Baroque, appeared in Fall, 2011, with Cornell University Press. Newman has held Humboldt and Guggenheim fellowships, and was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Berlin, Germany, in 2010-11, where she continued work on The Baroque State: Early Modern Lessons for a Post-Westphalian Age and Poetical Theology: Erich Auerbach and the Origins of World Literature. Her translation of a collection of Erich Auerbach’s essays is forthcoming from Princeton University Press.

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Mitsuyoshi Numano was born in Tokyo in 1954. He is currently Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, and Chairperson of the Department of Contemporary Literary Studies, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, University of Tokyo. He is also active as a literary critic, and is a regular contributor to such major newspapers as “Mainichi Shimbun” and “Tokyo Shinbun”.  He has translated into Japanese such authors as Nabokov, Okudjava, Brodsky, Dovlatov, Tolstaya, Chekhov, Kundera, Lem, Szmboska, Kolakowski, and Milosz, and has written numerous articles on Russian, Polish, and Japanese literature. He has also written more than ten books, including On Literature in Exile (2002, Suntory Award), On Utopian Literature (2003, Yomiuri Literary Prize), The Age of W-Literature: Contemporary Japanese Literature Going Across Its Borders (2005), and The World is Made of Literature (2011).

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C. Rajendran, Dean of the Faculty of Languages, University of Calicut, has been working as Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Calicut from 1990 onwards. He has done work in the fields of Aesthetics, Theatre, Philosophy, Linguistics, and Comparative Literature. His thesis on medieval Sanskrit poetics, entitled A Study of Mahimabhatta’s Vyaktiviveka,has been acknowledged as a significant contribution to studies related to Indian literary theory. His other noted contributions in English include Studies in Comparative Poetics, The Traditional Sanskrit Theatre of Kerala, Sign and Structure, Abhinayadarpana, Melputtur Narayana Bhatta, Kuntaka and Understanding Tradition. Edited works include The Living Traditions of Natyasastra, Contemporary Approaches to Indian Philosophy, Aspects of Paninian Semantics, Current Readings in Arthasastra and Narratology – Indian Perspectives. He also has to his credit several books relating to Indology in Malayalam. He is the recipient of the Ramakrishna Sanskrit Award for outstanding contributions in Teaching and Research, instituted by the Canadian World Education Foundation. His books Pathavum Porulum and Saundaryasastram won him the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award for literary criticism and the G.N.Pillai Endowment Award for informatics literature respectively. He received the M.S.Menon Award for literary criticism for his work Taratamyasaundaryasastram, and the IC Chacko Endowment Award for his work on hermeneutics, entitled Vyakhyanasastram. He has visited Germany, Finland, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Italy, and worked as a Visiting Professor both at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), Paris, and at Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland. He has also worked as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Kolkata and the University of Pune. He is currently a member of the editorial committee of Pandanus, the Indological journal published by Charles University, Prague. He has also served as a member of the advisory Board for Sanskrit and Malayalam of Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.

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Robert J. C. Young is Julius Silver Professor of English and Comparative Literature at New York University. From 1989-2005 he was Professor of English and Critical Theory at Oxford University and a fellow of Wadham College. He earned his B.A., M.A., and D.Phil. degrees in English from Exeter College, Oxford University. His books include White Mythologies: Writing History and the West (1990); Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Culture, Theory and Race (1995); Torn Halves: Political Conflict in Literacy and Cultural Theory (1996); Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction (2001); Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction (2003); The Idea of English Ethnicity (2008). He is also the Editor of Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies and was a founding editor of The Oxford Literary Review.  Robert Young has lectured in over 30 countries, and his work has been translated into over 20 languages.