Project Outline

‘World literature’ is now a field in its own right within literary studies. Over the last twenty years, those in this field have asked questions relating to global systems of power, dissemination, exchange, translation, and interpretation, with critics tending to work from systemic analyses to particular texts. Counter-critiques have variously stressed literature’s irreducible specificity, its own peculiar world-making capacities, its resistances to commodification, and commitments to ideal forms of world literature that are opposed to globalization.

Other Worlds: Forms of World Literature engages with questions of world literature and literary worldedness not on the basis of prior theoretical commitments but as world literature is currently being elaborated by four eminent Australian writers: Alexis Wright, Nicholas Jose, Gail Jones and J.M. Coetzee. The project centres on the interests and dialogues of these writers as they themselves produce new spheres of world literary possibility.

Our themes explore visions of world literature that set out from these writers’ idiosyncratic engagements with the literatures of the world. Our only premises are that creative practice is itself a way thinking and that new theoretical possibilities can arise from the exchange between it and criticism. The project involves critical and creative dialogues between indigenous and non-indigenous Australia, Argentina and South Africa, China, and Europe, affording a unique opportunity to think about how contemporary Australian writing might meaningfully be said to be enacting world literature.

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Forms of World Literature