20 Jun 2019
Untranslatability and the Challenge of World Literature
Derek Attridge is the author of books on South African literature, James Joyce, poetic form, and literary theory; his most recent publication is The Experience of Poetry: From Homer’s Listeners to Shakespeare’s Readers (Oxford University Press, 2019). He has taught in the UK and the United States and held visiting professorships in South Africa, France, Italy, Egypt, and Australia. He is Emeritus Professor of English and Related Literature at the University of York, UK, and a Fellow of the British Academy.
Part of the Symposium
The work of Derek Attridge demonstrates the critical and theoretical potential of the encounter between world literature and literary theory. In The Singularity of Literature (2004), Attridge insists that the book is complemented by his work in literary criticism on to the South African writer J. M. Coetzee, published the same year, J. M. Coetzee and the Ethics of Reading. It is as if the theory of literature – of literature in general – emerges out of a particular literary encounter, in this instance with a postcolonial writer pre-occupied with geopolitical, historical, and ethical limits – not least the limits of literature itself. And it is no coincidence that, while Attridge is critical of an oversimplified mapping of politics onto literature, his theory of literature involves politically charged terms such as singularity, otherness, exclusion, response, responsibility, as well as justice and hospitality.
Responding to Attridge’s recent The Work of Literature (2015), a group of scholars will reflect on the correspondences between world literature, literary theory, and the world writ large. The symposium sets out to explore the limits but also the liminality of literary theory and the historical, geopolitical and theoretical frameworks that inform and perhaps also tacitly delimit world literature.
(Click for further documentation)
Lorna Margaret Burns
Organized byFrancesco Giusti
Benjamin Lewis Robinson