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Public Panel Discussion World Literature in the 21st Century

Poster World Literature

Poster World Literature

The notion of World Literature, which was the focus of this concept laboratory, should not be understood as a synonym for the Western literary canon, but rather as a concept which integrates African, Arabic, South and East Asian, as well as Occidental literatures and the manifold theorizations of the term ‘literature’.The public panel discussion held during the three-day concept laboratory “Approaches to World Literature” considered not only the views of literary scholars, but also the more hands-on perspective of writers. How do different literary traditions influence each other in the production of texts? What impact do different writing systems, literary and religious traditions have on literature? Is it possible to negotiate a new ‘inclusive’ canon of World Literature? These issues were discussed by a panel of internationally-renowned intellectuals.

The video of the public panel discussion is available here.
The panel was part of a three-day concept laboratory organized in cooperation with the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School. Further information on the concept laboratory is available here.



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Vilashini Cooppan is Associate Professor at the Department of Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She gained her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at Stanford University. Her publications include: Worlds Within: National Narratives and Global Connections in Postcolonial Writing, Cultural Memory in the Present series, eds. Mieke Bal and Henk de Vries (2009); “Memory’s Future: Affect, History, and New Narrative in South Africa,” in: Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies, special issue on Affect, 35.1 (2009): 51-75; “Comparative Literature, World Literature, and the Revised Rise of the Novel,” in: Ameriquests: A Comparative Journal of the Americas, special issue on Reconsidering Comparative Literary Studies, 5.1 (2008); Affecting Politics: Postapartheid Fiction and the Limits of Trauma,” in: Trauma, Memory, and Narrative in the Contemporary South African Novel: Essays, eds. Geoff Davis, Ewald Mengel, and Michela Borzaga (2012,  forthcoming); “World Literature between History and Theory,” The Routledge Companion to World Literature, ed. David Damrosch, Theo D’Haen and Djelal Kadir (2011): 194-203.

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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 (www.iwl.fas.harvard.edu), which holds it's second annual session this summer in Istanbul.

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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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Suhrkamp Verlag
Durs Grünbeinwas born in Dresden, and now lives in Berlin, where he studied at the Humboldt University. After the decline of the Soviet Empire, he started travelling throughout Europe, South Asia and the United States. Since 2005 he has been Professor of Poetics and Aesthetics at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. He is a member of several German Academies, and since 2009 he has been a member of the Order pour le mérite for Science and Arts in Germany. He was also Artist in residence at the Villa Massimo of the German Academy in Rome in 2009.

He has published twelve poetry collections, a diary, and three books of essays, as well as translations from Greek and Latin. His work has been awarded many major German and international literary prizes, including the Georg-Büchner-Prize, the Friedrich-Nietzsche-Prize (2004), the Friedrich-Hölderlin-Prize, and the Pier-Paolo-Pasolini-Prize (both 2005). His poetry has also been translated into several languages.

Selected publications include:
Ashes for breakfast. Selected Poems (translated by the poet Michael Hofmann), Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York 2005.
The Bars of Atlantis. Selected Essays (trans. J. Crutchfield, M. Hofmann and A. Shields), Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York 2010.
Descartes’ Devil. Three Meditations (trans. Anthea Bell), and The Vocation of Poetry (trans. M. Eskin), Upper West Side Philosophers, Inc., New York 2010 and 2011.



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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 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.