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Cross-Historical Comparison in Literary Studies: Reassessing the Twentieth-Century Legacy

Lecture, Research profile seminar

Lecture within the research area Languages, Literature and Culturality, Department of Languages and Literatures. All interested are welcome!

Throughout the 20th century, fundamental disagreements on the methodological premises of (comparative) work on literature presented a major impediment to literary studies. These tensions, often politically or ideologically motivated and for that reason never adequately elucidated or debated, can be brought into focus by the following questions - Does literary interpretation have any need for history, or perhaps for a particular philosophy of history? What version of universal history (Hegelian, Marxist, "Spencerian") should underlie comparison between literary works produced in distant periods or in cultures that have not been in contact? Is such a comparison a task that even merits the attention of a literary scholar? A review of the legacy of 20th c. thought on literature suggests three productive areas where cross-historical comparison was enabled by an actual experience of non-synchronously coexisting artistic media and literary forms (the formulation of the notion of skaz, Milman Parry's case for an "oral-formulaic" poetics, an inclusive approach to folklore and literature within Historical Poetics); notably, the proximate genealogy of all these methodological discoveries takes us back to the last decades of the 19th century, a period bracketed by the conventional narrative of the rise of literary theory.

Date: 4 February 2020

Lecturer: Boris Maslov

Date: 2/4/2020

Time: 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Categories: Comparative Literature, Research, Language, Humanities

Organizer: institutionen för språk och litteraturer

Location: Faculty of Arts, Lundgrensgatan 1B

Contact person: Martin Svensson Ekström

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