This volume engages critically with the recent and ongoing consolidation of "world literature" as a paradigm of study. On the basis of an extended, active, and ultimately more literary sense of what it means to institute world literature, it views processes of institutionalization not as limitations, but as challenges to understand how literature may simultaneously function as an enabling and exclusionary world of its own. It starts from the observation that literature is never simply a given, but is always performatively and materially instituted by translators, publishers, academies and academics, critics, and readers, as well as authors themselves. This volume therefore substantiates, refines, as well as interrogates current approaches to world literature, such as those developed by David Damrosch, Pascale Casanova, and Emily Apter. Sections focus on the poetics of writers themselves, market dynamics, postcolonial negotiations of discrete archives of literature, and translation, engaging a range of related disciplines. The chapters contribute to a fresh understanding of how singular literary works become inserted in transnational systems and, conversely, how transnational and institutional dimensions of literature are inflected in literary works. Focusing its methodological and theoretical inquiries on a broad archive of texts spanning the triangle Europe-Latin America-Africa, the volume unsettles North America as the self-evident vantage of recent world literature debates. Because of the volume’s focus on dialogues between world literature and fields such as postcolonial studies, translation studies, book history, and transnational studies, it will be of interest to scholars and students in a range of areas.
Table of Contents
Introduction: World Literature in the Making Stefan Helgesson and Pieter Vermeulen Part I: Instituting Literature 1. How Writing Becomes (World) Literature: Singularity, The Universalizable, and the Implied Writer Stefan Helgesson 2. Instituting (World) Literature Peter D. McDonald 3. World Literature in a Poem: The Case of Herberto Helder Helena C. Buescu Part II: The World Literature Market 4. The Oblivion We Will Be: The Latin American Literary Field after Autonomy Liliana Weinberg 5. On World Literary Reading: Literature, the Market, and the Antinomies of Mobility Pieter Vermeulen 6. World Literature and Market Dynamics Sarah Brouillette Part III: Postcolonial Worlds 7. Archival Trajectories and Literary Voice in Indian Ocean Narratives of Slavery Maria Olaussen 8. African Mediations: Transcultural Writing in Achebe, Gourevitch, Eggers, and Okri Mads Rosendahl Thomsen Part IV: Fields of Translation 9. Strategies of Importation of Foreign Literature in France in the Twentieth Century: The Case of Gallimard, or the Making of an International Publisher Gisèle Sapiro 10. How African Literature Is Made: The Case of Authors from Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa (1960-2010) Claire Ducournau 11. The Scandinavian Literary Translation Field from a Local Point of View: A Peripheral (Sub)field? Yvonne Lindqvist Part V: Worlds in Translation 12. "MÊME DYING STOP CONFIRM ARRIVAL STOP": Provincial Literatures in Global Time—The Case of Marlene van Niekerk’s Agaat" Andrew van der Vlies 13. Transcendental Untranslatables: Emerson and Translation David Watson
Stefan Helgesson is Professor of English at Stockholm University. He is the author of Writing in Crisis: Ethics and History in Gordimer, Ndebele and Coetzee (2004) and Transnationalism in Southern African Literature (2009), and the editor of Literary History: Towards a Global Perspective, vol. 4 (2006).
Pieter Vermeulen is Assistant Professor of American Literature at the University of Leuven, Belgium. He is the author of Romanticism after the Holocaust (2010) and Contemporary Literature and the End of the Novel: Creature, Affect, Form (2015).
‘This book makes a signal contribution to debates about world literature because, for the first time and to great effect, it places the concept of the institution at the center of the conversation. The essays collected here ask how the market, the publishing house, and the university shape both the making and the reading of literary works. No longer simply containers and conduits, these institutions emerge as important actors in the history of world literature. In the tension between work and system, Institutions of World Literature generates methodologies for the future.’ -- Rebecca Walkowitz, Rutgers
‘A valuable and genuinely wide-ranging contribution to the burgeoning canon of world literature criticism, that not only historicizes but also importantly applies the core concepts to a range of writing from different regions and languages, and energetically links the key debates to ongoing questions in the sociology of the book.’ -- Elleke Boehmer, University of Oxford
‘Timely addressing terminological and methodological issues as well as presenting illuminating case studies, this volume engages with the latest developments in the fast-evolving field of world literature ... boldly venturing into literary territories hitherto almost uncharted from a world literature perspective, thorough in its scholarship, but always wearing its learning lightly, this is a must for anyone interested in where literary studies is at right now.’ -- Theo D’haen, Leuven University