10th Anniversary of Humanities - Global Literature - Meeting of Worlds, Past and Present
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2023) | Viewed by 889
Interests: medieval and early modern cultural history and humanities; premodern gender studies; history of mentality; comparative literature
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Global Literature—What Do We Know, What Should We Know, and How Can We Create an Epistemological Network to Work toward New Humanities?
Recent years have seen an enormous growth in research focusing on global literature (and also globalism at large). At the same time, a good handful of massive multivolume handbooks on world literature have appeared in print which make great efforts to bring to our attention major works written in all continents throughout time. The outcome has tended to be rather encyclopedic and eclectic, and there is rarely a close-knit tapestry of texts which as a group would really talk to each other. Often, it seems, scholars pay just lip service to the concept of world literature and place their pieces next to each other without aiming for some kind of cohesion, although intellectual giants such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1789–1849) and, much later, Ernst Robert Curtius (1886–1956) outlined very concrete steps toward the goal of bringing the various threads of Weltliteratur together. Medieval Studies has been in the vanguard of practicing a more global approach, though even the most recent scholars can hardly claim to have widened their concepts much beyond their linguistic, cultural, religious, and political frame of mind (David Damrosch, Teaching World Literature, 2009). We must certainly go far beyond the limits of internet sites such as Wikipedia (open access) or Literary Encyclopedia (paid service) and endeavor to create discussions across languages, genres, and periods.
For this Special Issue of Humanities, contributors are invited to suggest a collection of short articles addressing major literary texts from the same genres or addressing the same themes composed throughout time across the world, such as fable literature, narratives addressing the experience of death, the quest of love, the search for God, and the exploration of the meaning of life. Each piece within a circle of papers focusing on a theme or a motif would interact intensively with all others before it is completed and published. Such a volume promises to help the audience to gain deeper insights into shared or collective components of the humanities.
Periodical boundaries should be dismissed in favor of topical, thematic, and material issues shared by writers from throughout time in global terms. Those might be the hero, confrontation with death, gender conflicts and interaction, the experience of love, vision of God, environmental challenges, humans and the natural world, the examination of the mysteries of all life, travel, friendship, old age, etc. It would not be enough to discuss, for instance, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight or Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Hildegard of Bingen’s Scivias or Madame de Staël’s Germany side by side; instead, the purpose would be to learn from parallel works, to gain insights into the cross-disciplinary nexus, and to recognize the universal discourse. Only on that basis could we really start talking about world literature. Could we thus bring together literary reflections on the quest for knowledge and meaning, as formulated by Goethe’s Faust, with those expressed by Ethiopian, Finnish, Peruvian, Chinese, or Indian authors/poets throughout time?
The danger that such combinations might lead to a hodgepodge of literary–historical remarks should not be underestimated. However, the advantage would be that, finally, long-term topics relevant the world over throughout time would be addressed in a more synthesizing and meaningful manner.
Individual contributions should aim at more global literary perspectives and combine relevant material as much as possible in a meaningful way. For instance, what could wisdom literature from the Asian continent inform us about, and how would that be related to European or Australian wisdom literature? Longitudinal perspectives ought to be combined with vertical approaches merging ancient, medieval, and modern representatives. At the risk of asking of potential contributors too much, this volume wants to embark on a new type of literary history.
To repeat what possible topics could look like:
- The spiritual
- Exploration and travel
- Gender conflicts
- Human interactions with nature
Suggestions for topics to be addressed to the guest-editor, University Distinguished Prof. Albrecht Classen, University of Arizona.
Prof. Dr. Albrecht Classen
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