Volume 80, Issue 4 | December 2019

Special Issue: Literary History after the Nation?

Author Title
Peter Kalliney Literary History after the Nation?
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Susan Stanford Friedman Alternatives to Periodization: Literary History, Modernism, and the “New” Temporalities  
Can literary history be done without the conventional reliance on linear periodization? What might a literary history of modernism look like without the usual periodization of roughly 1890-1945? This essay reviews the arguments for and against periodization and then argues that the “new time studies”—based in non-linear concepts of time for the study of the contemporary--offers alternatives to the Eurocentric periodization of modernism. These new temporalities were anticipated by early twentieth-century Euro-American modernism, presented in the essay with an account of the dramatic debate between Einstein and Bergson in 1922 and a discussion of Woolf’s experiments with the relationality of space and time in her fiction. Multidimensional, layered, and disjunctive concepts of time are better suited for the study of planetary modernisms that incorporate the colonial and postcolonial modernities. Kabe Wilson’s contemporary multi-media installation based on a re-mix of A Room of One’s Own and selected criticism on modernism are used to illustrate alternatives to linear periodization.
Katerina Clark The Soviet Project of the 1930s to Found a ‘World Literature’ and British Literary Internationalism  
A major lacuna in Pascale Casanova’s account of World Literature in her World Republic of Letters is the Soviet venture into establishing a “world literature” (mirovaia literatura) to be centered not in Paris but in Moscow. This aim was most actively pursued between the wars when large numbers of writers were implicated in its international network. This moment in literary history provides a missing link in the progression from the more elitist world literature as conceived by Goethe and others in the early nineteenth century and world literature in our post-colonialist present and era of globalization. Clark’s article outlines the networks that sought to foster such a “world literature” and the main aesthetic controversies within the movement. In particular, she looks at the extent to which the literary international followed the precepts of socialist realism and the efforts of such official spokesmen as Andrei Zhdanov, Karl Radek and Georg Lukács to proscribe “bourgeois” modernism and how effective they were. She takes members of the British Writers’ International and their associated journals Left Review and New Writing as case studies in the interplay between Moscow as putative “metropole” and the “periphery.”
Harris Feinsod World Poetry: Commonplaces of an Idea  
This essay offers a philological career of the term world poetry as poets and scholars employed it and close cognates across the twentieth century (the century in which it first appears to come into use). This career emphasizes trajectories in three of the West’s imperial language formations: poésie mondiale in French, poesia mundial in Spanish, and world poetry in English, but also highlights kindred trajectories in non-Western languages, such as she‘r-e jah?n in Persian and shi‘r fi al-‘alam in Arabic. Corroborating Édouard Glissant’s claim that “The amassing of commonplaces is, perhaps, the right approach to my real subject—the entanglements of worldwide relation” (Glissant 1997: 31), the essay argues for an understanding of world poetry as the accumulated philological history of poetic folkways, habits of use, sociological institutions, formations, and conjunctures that group around the term itself.
Marijeta Bozovic The Voices of Keti Chukhrov: Radical Poetics after the Soviet Union  
This article analyzes the work of the Georgian-born Russian-language poet Keti Chukhrov as a representative of Russia’s post-Soviet avant-garde. I argue that the newest Russian avant-garde stands in stark opposition to the mainstream phenomena of Soviet nostalgia: the highly aware appropriations and remediations I study better understood as a reaction to official nostalgia for the imperial and militant aestheticized politics of the Soviet Union. Efforts to think leftwards beyond the state socialist past to a global egalitarian future challenge both Russian and “Western” narratives in our increasingly interconnected world. Chukhrov in particular demonstrates the ability to theorize powerlessness in ways both deeply local and globally familiar. Despite the many voices rumbling through her work, Chukhrov’s theses are consistent: art must be communist; all desire, even faked, is political eros; and the post-Soviet subject is not even dead. Chukhrov embeds her politics in institutional critique, lends her labor to collectives and collaborations, and refracts her poetic voice into multitudes.
Eric Hayot Literary History after Literary Dominance  
The various pronouncements of the nation’s dissolution seem to have been premature. Literary history is still very much within the nation, especially if one considers the realm of the middle- and lowbrow, or indeed the vast swaths of genre fiction. What has changed in literary history is the position of literature itself. The discipline of literary study (whether one thinks of it as literary history or literary criticism) institutionalized itself during a period of literary dominance. Now that that dominance is over—now that the field of narrative aesthetic culture includes television, film, and video games, and now that those genres dominate not only markets but the forms of representativity that used to belong almost exclusively to literature—what is the future for literary studies, either as a scholarly discipline or as an institutional field?
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Simon Gikandi Phantom Time: Literary History at the Edge of the Nation

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