vendredi 20 mai 2011

SCENES OF READING:Is Australian Literature a World Literature?

As a part of its annual series of international symposia and
book publications on key themes in Australian literary
studies, in May 2012, Australian Literature at the University
of Sydney will host a symposium on the theme, ‘Scenes of
Reading: Is Australian Literature a World Literature?’

Recent accounts define world literature as (i) a discipline
concerned with the ‘effective life’ of a text ‘whenever, and wherever, it is
actively present within a literary system beyond that of its original culture’,
or (ii) as a field of practice, ‘a mode of circulation and of reading’, ‘a traffic
in ideas between peoples’ (Damrosch). These definitions offer
methodological challenges for Australian literature which, until recently, has
been situated primarily as a ‘national’ literature. Transnational literary
studies are now throwing into relief the provincialising force of such local
and/or nationally bounded knowledges. Indeed the relationships between
local and transnational literary space are demanding new reading practices,
and creating new ‘scenes of reading’. These have been variously described
using metaphors like: ‘mutual elliptical refraction’ (Damrosch, Giles), or
looking far afield through the wrong end of the telescope (Anderson).
Questions that arise may include but are not confined to the
following: What scope or potential might transnational reading practices
offer Australian literature? Can reading Australian literature as a world
literature enable us to trace threads of connection beyond the local and the
national into transnational space and ‘deep time’ (Dimock)? Is Australian
literature a minority or provincial literature embedded uncertainly in
international literary space (Casanova)? What was/is the impact of
cosmopolitanism on Australian readers and writers, both before and after
the formation of the nation as an imagined community? Do threads of
citation and allusion extending beyond the space of the nation hold out the
possibility of a global civil society, via ‘the playing field called “literary
culture” brought into being … by the act of reading’ (Dimock)? Or are they
all too often snagged by specialist knowledge and localized epistemologies?
How might the above questions be mediated or conditioned by Australia’s
settler colonial context?
Abstracts for papers are welcome on issues such as the following:

national literatures and world literature disciplinary genealogies of national literatures, comparative literature and world literature transnational reading practices national and transnational literary careers, networks, inheritances and/or genealogies national literatures, international space and deep time the provincialising force of local epistemologies/literary acts the internationalizing force of local and/or provincial epistemologies/literary acts literary crossings along local, regional, national, and transnational coordinates Australian literature in the translation zone Australian literature and international modernism literary temporality and national/transnational belonging literary investments in local/global politics of place
histories of the book, publishing and print culture in local, national or transnational perspectives
transnationalism and the new media

25 – 26 May 2012

Keynote Speaker
Professor Wai Chee Dimock
(Yale University), author of
Through Other Continents: American Literature Across Deep Time (2006) and coeditor
of Shades of the Planet: American Literature as World Literature (2007).

31 July 2011
Email abstracts to:


Professor Robert Dixon, FAHA
Professor of Australian Literature
English Department
University of Sydney
Sydney 2006

Dr Brigid Rooney
Australian Literature
English Department
University of Sydney
Sydney 2006

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