letteratura mondo
ISSN 2281-1966

World Literature and the Globalectical Imagination

By Pier Paolo Frassinelli

2013_05_Frassinelli_InterventoWhat is world literature? More and more people who do literary studies are asking and debating this question. A sign of the times, for one could say that world literature is literature in the age of globalisation, when «the literature around us is [...] unmistakably a planetary system», and that all the academic activity that surrounds this category looks like an attempt to catch up with what is going on in the (literary) world outside the classroom or conference venue. Its recent prominence is arguably also a response to the deepening institutional crisis in the humanities, in the face of which world literature sounds like a better project to defend and promote than more arcane or narrowly specialist subjects. It is easier to sell to students than, say, pastoral poetry or medieval satire, and it is in fact not by chance that the renewed attention to world literature comes from the United States, where its promise of easy access to the richness of the literary world, usually in English translation, fits in well with «a consumerist North American model of liberal arts education».

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