Arguing against nationalism, Goethe celebrated the “relatively free intellectual trade relations” of ‘modern’ culture as heralding cosmopolitan Weltliteratur that could yield universal “advantage” and “delight”. Yet in recent debates such optimistic transnational vistas often seem to reinscribe Euro-American prejudices wherein local, Western preferences are granted the aura of the cosmopolitan. At worst, the category of ‘world literature’ provides a measure for the intensity of ‘foreign’ pressure over local form and the coerciveness of (Western) modernity.
On the other hand, the recent debate on ‘world literature’, for its concern with comparison and disciplinary politics, can also be an opportunity for a recalibration of core/periphery relations, concepts of modernity, nation, place and belonging, and the transnational vistas that accompanied them. Rather than transcending nation and region, we view these as closely, if not dialectically, related to distinctive nationalisms and regionalisms.
'Modernism', for instance, long viewed as the form of expression that best highlights Western culture as secular and cosmopolitan, might find in the ‘world literature’ debate possibilities for reexamining modernism as a category that includes divergent experiences and locales of modernity.
The aim of this workshop is to examine transnational ideas and ideals, and the conditions of their emergence from a comparative perspective.
Contact: Professor Dr. Walter Göbel / Universität Stuttgart / Abt. Amerikanistik und Neuere Englische Literatur (email@example.com)