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Comparative Cultural Studies and the New Weltliteratur

Elke Sturm-Trigonakis
Athanasia Margoni
Maria Kaisar
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Purdue University Press
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  • Book Info
    Comparative Cultural Studies and the New Weltliteratur
    Book Description:

    In this eng translation and revision of her acclaimed German-language book, Elke Sturm-Trigonakis expands on Goethe's notion of Weltliteratur (1827) to propose that, owing to globalization, literature is undergoing a profound change in process, content, and linguistic practice. Rather than producing texts for a primarily national readership, modern writers can collate diverse cultural, literary, and linguistic traditions to create new modes of expression that she designates as "hybrid texts." The author introduces an innovative framework to analyse these new forms of expression that is based on comparative cultural studies and its methodology of contextual (systemic and empirical) approaches to the study of literature and culture, including the concepts of the macro- and micro-systems of culture and literature. To illustrate her proposition, Sturm-Trigonakis discusses selected literary texts which that exhibit characteristics of linguistic and cultural hybridity, the concept of "in-between," and transculturality and thus are located in a space of a "new world literature." Examples include Gastarbeiterliteratur ("migrant literature") by authors such as Chiellino, Shami, and Atabay. The book is important reading for philologists, linguists, sociologists, and other scholars interested in the cultural and linguistic impact of globalization on literature and culture. The German edition of this volume was originally published as Global playing in der Literatur. Ein Versuch über die Neue Weltliteratur (2007), and it has been translated in collaboration with the author by Athanasia Margoni and Maria Kaisar. Contents: Goethe's Weltliteratur and the Career of an Idea; Hybrid Literary Texts and Philological Paradigms; New World Literature and a Systemic Reorganization of Hybrid Fictional Texts; A Survey of Poetic Multilingualism; From One-Word-Interference to Metamultulingualism and Transtextuality; Multilingualism as a Poetic Strategy; Nomadic Biographies in New World Literature; Global Cities and Borderlands as Transnational Spaces; and Global and Local Temporal Layers and the De-placement of National History.

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-285-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-7)

    The title of the book isComparative Cultural Studies and the NewWeltliteratur in order to refer to the two main axes of my argumentation: the theoretical framework of comparative cultural studies—with its emphasis on interdisciplinarity, the contextual approach, and evidence-based methodology—and Goethe's idea ofWeltliteraturunderstood in today's situation of globalization.

    Since the 1960s and increasingly since the 1980s there has been a continuous boom of "transnational" fiction which can hardly be classified under the rubric of "national literature" as it breaks the mold of the national in terms of language and content. Azade Seyhan describes "transnational...

  5. Chapter One Goethe’s Weltliteratur and the Career of an Idea
    (pp. 8-20)

    Dieter Lamping states that "Weltliteraturis one of the great ideas of the nineteenth century and one of the few which have survived the epoch of its genesis … Owing to this idea we do not perceive literature as something exclusively national, as a mere sum of single literatures, which evolve according to laws of their own, completely independent from each other, even in confrontation to each other" (9). Lamping argues that the idea ofWeltliteraturis long lived and still sells on the cultural market, on the one hand, but now needs an actualization and a more precise definition...

  6. Chapter Two Hybrid Literary Texts and Philological Paradigms
    (pp. 21-55)

    In this chapter I present my thoughts about the relation of some philologies to their respective "small" literatures. Although the selection opted for almost automatically entails a charge of Eurocentrism, I consciously restrict myself to the fields where my command of languages allows me to have a substantiated opinion and this is why the Slavic languages, for example, are absent, although they belong to the traditional subjects of Western scholarship. The aim of these brief introductions to the intercultural literature of the German-speaking area, to English-speaking world fiction, to the fiction of the Francophony, Spain, Hispanic America, and Lusophony cannot...

  7. Chapter Three New World Literature and a Systemic Organization of Hybrid Fiction
    (pp. 56-67)

    In humanities scholarship there has been much discussion with regard to reality and its images; while the former has by no means been objectifiably revealed, the latter are thought of only as a staging of cultural practices at a given time. Nevertheless, the relationship between the two components is not dichotomous per se; rather, it can be described with the words of Günter Abel as "revolving door-like," where "any individuated and specific reality is always constituted in signs and conditioned by interpretation; any substantial and non-accidental experience is always an experience of reality" (13). Abel believes that "our signs, our...

  8. Chapter Four Forms/Types of Poetic Multilingualism and Interferences, Metamultilingualism, and Transtextuality
    (pp. 68-93)

    "'In dulci jubilo.' Nun singet und seid froh! / Unseres Herzens Wonne / Leit in praesepio / Und leuchtet vor der Sonne / Matris in gremio. / Alpha es et O!" (qtd. in Forster 10). When this Christmas carol was written in the fifteenth century, the poet was hardly concerned whether anyone would feel confused or discriminated against because of the mixture of languages: Latin as the language of church and scholars was used as a matter of course alongside the vernaculars, depending on the situation. The same bilingual naturalness has only recently been achieved again through songs by—mostly...

  9. Chapter Five Multilingualism as Poetic Strategy
    (pp. 94-107)

    In this chapter I discuss how literary multilingualism in hybrid texts is performed in the above presented types of multilingual texts and how such texts ought to be analyzed with regard to their aesthetic and reception characteristics. My point of departure here includes linguistic perspectives as well, according to which language contact is realized through code-switching as a rule and whose functions can be defined as follows: "a referential function: lack of knowledge of one language or lack of facility in that language on a certain subject; a directive function: exclusion or inclusion of one or more interlocutors; an expressive...

  10. Chapter Six Nomadic Biographies in New World Literature
    (pp. 108-133)

    In the previous chapter I describe how polyglossia represents a morphological and structural characteristic of NWL. In this chapter I elaborate on the content and thematic aspects of hybrid literatures. Although in my opinion the discourse of globalization is no more than epistemic positioning—in Peter Sloterdijk's words a "philosophically inspired grand narrative" (11)—narratives of globalization are indispensable to "shed light on the situation" even at the risk of generating new mythologizations exactly there, where they should be uncovered as such (11). After all, we can retreat with Sloterdijk to the lowest common denominator of globalization according to which...

  11. Chapter Seven Transnational Spaces, Places, and Layers of Time
    (pp. 134-157)

    Spaces are, just as time, real patterns of categorization which appear in literature as symbolic representations and inscribe fictional characters in space and time constellations. Comparable to identity, perceptions of space as "surface morphology" and surface as a designation for "unnamed and uncircumscribed geographical extension" are always to be considered "culturally determined," because "space and surface only take on a meaning within the dynamic of the social situation (interaction, identity, and time), in which boundaries are drawn around the blank surface extension and the thus enclosed area is defined. Cultures express themselves inside the space they use (e.g., through cultivation...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 158-165)

    A new society emerges if and when structural transformation occurs in the relationships of production, the relationships of power, and the relationships of experience. These transformations lead to an equally substantial modification of social forms of space and time and thus to the emergence of a new culture. What has been occurring since the 1960s and 1970s through the technical innovations and the economic and political crises of capitalism and in the 1980s by the collapse of the Soviet empire, a new world is emerging that operates with different rules than the world of the twentieth century. Castells describes this...

  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 166-188)
  14. Index
    (pp. 189-193)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 194-194)