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Exploratory Seminar - January 24/25 2018

World Literature, Cosmopolitanism, Globality: Beyond, Against, Post, Otherwise

Organization and Concept:
Gesine Müller (Universität zu Köln)
Mariano Siskind (Harvard University)

A cooperation of:
- “Reading Global. Constructions of World Literature and Latin America” (Consolidator Grant of the European Research Council (ERC))
- Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University

Since the 1990s, the concept of World Literature has been transformed by the emergence of discourses on cultural and economic globalization, and has come to occupy a central place in literary criticism. Just as Goethe wrote at the beginning of the 19th century, "national literature is now a rather unmeaning term,” in the 90s the usual frameworks—whether national or continental in nature—were dislocated, opening a path for the euphoric affirmation of the universalism of literature and the relevancy of focusing on all textual and written phenomena that are etched within processes of global circulation. These phenomena are marked by the production of transnational identities, linguistic intersections, and other cosmopolitan cultural configurations. World Literature coincided perfectly with a discourse and set of practices which were in operation at both political and economic levels. They favored all kinds of flows and mobilizations, and seemingly tended to reduce the importance of categories related to fixedness, limits, and non-cosmopolitan identities.

Nevertheless, from today’s vantage point it can be said that this confidence in the abilities of globalism and mobility to illuminate cultural signification processes within, without, and inside of the interstices of the nation had a blind spot for phenomena that in one way or another went beyond the discourses, aesthetics, and political positions of liberal cosmopolitanism and neoliberal globalization. In the face of these processes, it becomes necessary to interrogate once again the concept of World Literature in order to assess it and rework it, re-theorize it and adjust it in order to open it up to the tragic present state of the world. The objective of our coming together is precisely to explore possible adjustments, critiques, reconceptualizations, or refutations of World Literature—above, beyond, underneath, in opposition to, or after globalization.

Program (PDF)

Poster (PDF)

Wednesday, 24 January
Place: University of Cologne, Hauptgebäude, Neuer Senatssaal

09:30 – 09:45 Welcome: Professor Monika Schausten (Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities)

09:45 – 10:00 Gesine Müller, Mariano Siskind: Introduction

Materialist worlds

10:00 – 10:30 Gesine Müller (Cologne): “Literatura mundial sin mundo? Propuestas para una perspectiva materialista”

10:30 – 11:00 Ignacio Sánchez Prado (St. Louis): “La ‘literatura mundial’ como campo y materialidad. Una polémica contra la dialéctica centro-periferia”

11:00 – 11:30 Coffee break

11:30 – 12:00 Jorge Locane (Cologne): “Literatura mundial/globalización liberal. Apuntes para una metacrítica materialista de los estudios Weltliterarios”

Broken down, dislocated, precarious worlds

12:00 – 12:30 Guillermina de Ferrari (University of Wisconsin-Madison): “The Distribution of Vulnerability”

12:30 – 14:30: Lunch break

14:30 – 15:00 Alexandra Ortiz Wallner (Berlin): “Ante los expulsados de la globalización: usos de la discontinuidad y la perspectiva para leer la literatura mundial”

15:00 – 15:30 Mariano Siskind (Harvard): “About the end of the world: mourning and nothing more“

15:30 – 16:00 Coffee break

Contesting world literary mediations: spatiality, temporality, relationality

16:00 – 16: 30 Benjamin Loy (Cologne): “The Global Alt-Write: exploraciones de la literatura mundial reaccionaria”

16:30 – 17:00 Héctor Hoyos (Stanford): “Is World Literature Always-Already Transcultural?”

17:00 – 17:30 Alejandra Laera (Buenos Aires): “Los tiempos después del tiempo: discontinuidad, superposición y mezcla para un cierto modo de habitar”

17:30 – 18:30 Roundtable/Closing discussion

19:30 – Conference dinner

Thursday, January 25
Place: University of Cologne, Hauptgebäude, Neuer Senatssaal

Reconfiguring Latin Americanist/Hispanist Worlds

09:30 – 10:00 Alejandra Uslenghi (Northwestern): “World Image: doing and undoing global visual imaginaries in Latin America”

10:00 – 10:30 Michelle Clayton (Brown): “Circuitos del latinoamericanismo”

10:30 – 11:00 Nora Catelli (Barcelona): “Imaginarios en la circulación de la teoría”

11:00 – 11:30 Coffee break

Nations in Crisis, Challenging the global

11:30 – 12:00 Gustavo Guerrero (Paris): “Más allá de la nación, más acá de la globalización: los estudios literarios buscando un lugar en el nuevo siglo”

12:00 – 12:30 Marta Puxan Oliva (Barcelona) “The Challenges of Global Environments to World Literary Cosmopolitanism”

12:30 – 13:00 César Domínguez (Santiago de Compostela): “Los mundos subalternos de la literatura mundial”

13:00 – 15:00 Lunch break

15:00 – 17:00 Roundtable/Closing discussion

19:00 Dinner