Tuesday 13 May 2014

Comparative Literature Studies

Comparative Literature: World Literature
Let us not intent to indulge in the debate of nomenclature. Call it Comparative literary studies or comparative studies or comparative literature or all put together, comparative literature studies; the area is very fertile so far as research is concern. In the times when the interest is growing from single disciplinary study to multi and inter-disciplinarity, no field allows for freedom in research as Comparative Studies.

Engraving each other: Comparative Study
 Yes, i have deliberately dropped the word 'literature or literary'. As the potential to yield rich harvest lies with comparative studies, i think it is not advisable to chain it by the term 'literature'. The term literature, in its narrow canonical definition, will not give us freedom to expand our research arena in the fields of television, films, advertisements and popular culture, let alone music, art, painting, dance and sculpture. If the political phenomenon in the twenty first century looks strongly towards democracy and globalization, how can literary research remain free from it. Why shouldn't research in literature be democratic in spirit and be global in terms of breaking the boundaries and narrow borders of canons? Isn't it the sure way to make literature 'world literature' - the dream of great visionaries like Goethe, Tagore and Northrop Frye.

At the same time, it becomes necessary to see what the leading comparatist think about the definition of comparative studies. This presentation which was made in the Refresher Course on Comparative Literature at Academic Staff College, Gujarat University, Ahmedabad (Gujarat) deals with:
  • What is comparative studies?
  • Why compare?
  • What to compare?
  • How to compare?

Comparative Literature Studies
Presentation Transcript
  • 1. Goethe (1749-1832) : ‘Weltliteratur’ 1827 Tagore (1861-1941) : ‘Visva Sahitya’ 1907
  • 2. Comparative Literature / Studies What is it? Why Compare? How to Compare? What to Compare? 14 November 2013 Refresher Course ASC, Gujarat University, Ahmedabad Dilip Barad M.K. Bhavnagar University, Gujarat dilipbarad@gmail.com
  • 3. Let us discuss ‘definitions’ (?) Comparative Literature • Firstly, let us identify the ‘centre’: is it literature or comparison?
  • 4. Comparison ? Literature Translation Studies Cultural Studies / Religious Studies Film / Media Studies So Psy DH H AS PCl Gen
  • 5. Wikipedia • Comparative literature (sometimes abbreviated "Comp. lit.," or referred to as Global or World Literature) is an academic field dealing with the literature of two or more different linguistic, cultural or nation groups. • While most frequently practiced with works of different languages, comparative literature may also be performed on works of the same language if the works originate from different nations or cultures among which that language is spoken. • Also included in the range of inquiry are comparisons of different types of art; for example, a relationship of film to literature. • Additionally, the characteristically intercultural and transnational field of comparative literature concerns itself with the relation between literature, broadly defined, and other spheres of human activity, including history, politics, philosophy, and science. • Wikipedia contributors. "Comparative literature." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.
  • 6. Henry Remak (1916-2009) • “Comparative Literature is the study of literature beyond the confines of one particular country, and the study of the relationships between literature on one hand and other areas of knowledge and belief, such as the arts (e.g. painting, sculpture, architecture, music), philosophy, hi story, the social sciences, (e.g. politics, economics, sociology), the sciences, religion, etc., on the other. • In brief it is the comparison of one literature with another or others, and the comparison of literature with other spheres of human expression.” • Remak, Henry Comparative Literature: Method and Perspective (1961)
  • 7. Nelson Lowry (1924-1994) • "Comparative Literature is … the whole study of the whole of literature as far as one’s mind and life can stretch. By its very scope Comparative Literature … is a presumptuous study.” • Nelson, Lowry. Poetic Configurations (1988)
  • 8. Haun Saussy (1960 - ) • “The premises and protocols characteristic of [comparative literature] are now the daily currency of coursework, publishing, hiring, and coffee-shop discussion. … • The ‘transnational’ dimension of literature and culture is universally recognized even by the specialists who not long ago suspected comparatists of dilettantism. .. • Comparative teaching and reading take institutional form in an ever-lengthening list of places. … • Comparative literature … now … is the first violin that sets the tone for the rest of the orchestra. Our conclusions have become other people’s assumptions.” • Haun Saussy, Comparative Literature in an Age of Globalization (2006)
  • 9. Roland Greene (1957 - ) • "Comparative literature is the laboratory or workshop of literary studies, and through them, of the humanities. • Comparative literature compares literatures, not only as accumulations of primary works, but as the languages, cultures, histories, traditions, theo ries, and practices with which those works come." • Greene, Roland. "Their Generation," Comparative Literature in the Age of Multiculturalism (1995)
  • 10. Sandra Bermann • “A more transnational, interdisciplinary, and responsive humanities is, I believe, poised to emerge – • such a humanities may well contribute to a new sort of global consciousness, one that would bring a keener sensitivity to the languages, cultures, and peoples of our polyglot planet and begin to draw us all into a broader, more responsive conversation – • Comparative literature and translation studies – best suitable for it. (cont)
  • 11. Sandra Bermann • “Comparative literature regularly joins literary texts from different languages and cultures. It also regularly connects, say, a poem with dance, a film with the novel, photography with the essay. It even relates different disciplinary languages and modes of thinking.“ • Bermann, Sandra. “Working in the And Zone: Comparative Literature and Translation,”Comparative Literature 61, no. 4 (2009):432-446
  • 12. Descartes (1596-1650) • All knowledge which is not obtained through the simple and pure intuition of an isolated thing is obtained by the comparison of two or more things among themselves. And almost all the work of human reason consists without doubt in making this operation possible. Descartes, Regulae ad directionem ingenii (1684) Cited In Claudia Brodsky, “Grounds of Comparison” World Literature Today 69 (1995).
  • 13. April Alliston • "A rigorous definition of comparative literature should always include the study of texts across languages; this multilingual aspect can only become more crucial to distinguishing comparative literature as national literature departments also develop greater emphases on postcolonial and interdisciplinary studies. • In the new Millennium, I hope we will pursue the study of Weltiliteratur in the spirit of Goethe, albeit in ways he could never have imagined: challenging a world order that is already very different from the one his ideas subverted by helping to bring about a cosmopolitan community in which national, disciplinary, and linguistic demarcations may become less rigid." • Alliston, April . “Looking Backward, Looking Forward: MLA Members Speak.” PMLA. 115, no. 7 (December 2000): 1987
  • 14. Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek • “In principle, the discipline of Comparative Literature is in toto a method in the study of literature in at least two ways. First, Comparative Literatures means the knowledge of more than one national language and literature, and/or it means the knowledge and application of other disciplines in and for the study of literature and second, Comparative Literature has an ideology of inclusion of the Other, be that a marginal literature in its several meanings of marginality, a genre, various text types, etc. (Cont)
  • 15. Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek • Comparative Literature has intrinsically a content and form, which facilitate the cross-cultural and interdisciplinary study of literature . . . • Predicated on the borrowing of methods from other disciplines and on the application of the appropriated method to areas of study single- language literary study more often than tends to neglect, the discipline is difficult to define because thus it is fragmented and pluralistic.” Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek, Comparative Literature: Theory, Method, Application (1998)
  • 16. Gregory Reid • "Any two texts can be compared, but a comparison works when there is a sufficient basis for comparison; that is, a strong number of similarities, which allow us to isolate particular striking, revealing, informing, epiphanic and ultimately untranslatable differences. … • These untranslatable differences which are the product of language, culture, history and environment as well as the semi-autonomous evolution of art forms and the talents and experiences of individual artists invariably pronounce themselves in what is called style." • Gregory Reid, "A Prolegomenon to Comparative Drama in Canada : In Defense of Binary Studies" (2005)
  • 17. Why Compare? ~ David Ferris • Problem with name of comparative literature > world literature - Goethe • Crisis: Rene Wellek • World and comparative = wider connotations in ‘comparison’ • Aristotle: imitation = comparison; comparison is a form of knowledge rooted in likeness. Two types of comparison > historical ‘as it is’; possibility ‘ought to’; second is blinded by the limits of first > thus, freedom in CL has its own limitation, lack of definition is limit not unbound horizon. • Plato > allegory of Cave (8:00) > new, real outside world, habituation, real world in comparison to the unreal past experience within cave creates knowledge > ridicule > cave and world > • “What then is really at stake in this allegory which twice enacts comparison by curtailing its temporality into is what Plato calls habituation? • And, why is it that the world, in Aristotle as well, is consistently called upon to embody a comparison that the world is powerless to affirm?” (cont)
  • 18. Why Compare? ~ David Ferris • A reflection on comparison that is capable of interrupting its own unfolding in a mode other than the coercion of crisis would be a start so that our present can make a claim on why and avoid the endless repetitions of what and how. • The natural sciences may ask about what is in our world, the social sciences may measure how we are in that world, we, at least, can ask why - and that is why we compare.
  • 19. Rene Wellek: Crisis of Comparative Literature • Published in 1959, this article by René Wellek, written in strong, forceful words,criticizes the French school of comparative literature for its confined system and obsolete methodology. • Wellek's allusion to a crisis was not meant to refer to the discipline as practiced in the United Statesbut he was in fact pointing an accusing finger at the “rotten” French part of the metaphorical apple. • Wellek spent many paragraphs criticizing Paul van Tieghem • reminded us of the origins of comparative literature; that it arose as a reaction to narrow-minded nationalism prevalent in 19th Century France. How ironical it is that only half a century later (at the time of Wellek's writing), French comparative literature was being criticized for putting lopsided emphasis on influence studies and what Wellek labeled as “cultural book-keeping” as the French had a way of drawing attention to high levels of achievements in their literature of the preceding centuries. • defense of the open, multidisciplinary approach of the American school and its emphasis on criticism sounds so prognostic, that is, as we now look back at how comparative literature inAmerica has developed in later decades • a crisis is an opportunity to reflect, and for reform and repositioning of one's priorities
  • 20. How to Compare? • Mechele Foucoult • There exist two forms of comparison, and only two: the comparison of measurement and that of order. • One can measure sizes or multiplicities, in other words continuous sizes or discontinuous sizes; but in both cases the use of measurement presupposes that, unlike calculation, which proceeds from elements towards a totality, one considers the whole first and then divides it up into parts. • one cannot know the order of things ‘in their isolated nature’, but by discovering that which is the simplest, then that which is the next simplest, one can progress inevitably to the most complex things of all. • University Handout for students • Descarte and Goethe
  • 21. What & How of Comparative Literature Koelb and Noakes saw shift in CL studies From To . . .the center of theoretical concern, such as the history of criticism, period/movement designators as romanticism or symbolism (matters that have been cloistered essential to the understanding of the history of literature as a great and unified cultural enterprise – movements, themes, periods, the history of ideas . . . . . . theoretical implications of diverse literary phenomena (issues that range around the frontier – ‘emergent’ literatures, relations to other disciplines, women’s studies, marginalized forms of reading: “pre-reading”, “female-reading” - There is, by and large, a kind of decentering in progress, both in terms of notions of reading and of canons prescribing what is to be read.
  • 22. • ‘National Literature’ cannot constitute an intelligible field of study because of its arbitrarily limited perspective: international contextualism in literary history and criticism has become a law. • Comparative literature represents more than an academic discipline. It is an overall view of literature, of the world of letters, a humanistic ecology, a literary weltanschauung(world view), a vision of the cultural universe, inclusive and comprehensive … Comparative literature is the ineluctable result of general historical developments. • The Comparative Perspective on Literature: Approaches to Theory and Practice by Claton Koelb and Susan Noakes. 1988. Cornell University Press What & How of Comparative Literature?
  • 23. A Case Study: What to compare? Always keep in mind ~‘why’ ~ inter-disciplinary approach • Let us view these ads, poems, folk lit, image and try to do Comparative Studies: – View this lesson form the school book – study language – car ad – Poem by Kamala Das: An Introduction – Poem recited by poet Meena Kandasamy (2:00) – Hindi Poem: Raavan – Hindi poem: Prasoon Joshi : mohe lohar ke ghar dijiyo, meri zanjeere pighlaye – Women Bond – Lok Sahitya : Beti – bahu (4:00) – Tu hi tu – Star Ad (3:44) – Fair and Lovely – Airhostess (1:00) – Fair and Handsome (.37) – Sunsilk – Malaysia (1:00) – Tanishq – Marriage (1:37)
  • 24. Bibliography • Wellek, René. “The Crisis of Comparative Literature.” Comparative Literature: Proceedings of the Second Congress of the ICLA. Ed. W. P. Friederich. 2 vols. Chapel Hill: U of Carolina P, 2:149-59. • Saussy, Haun, ed. (2006). Comparative literature in an Age of Globalization . Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. • Randel, Don (2010). What about the humanities? Society for the Humanities, Invitational Lecture, Cornell University. 30 March 2010. • Ferris, David. (2006). Indiscipline. In Haun Saussy, ed., Comparative literature in an Age of Globalization. pp. 78-99. Baltimore: Johns CHopkins University Press. • Stallknecht, Newton P, Horst Frenz. OMPARATIVE LITERATURE: Method and Perspective Ed.Southern Illinois University Press CARBONDALE Questia Media America, Inc. www.questia.com • Dev, Amiya. Rethinking Comparative Literature • Das, Sisir Kumar. Comparative Literature in India: A Historical Perspective • Majumdar, Swapan. Comparative Literature: Indian Dimensions • Bose, Buddhadeva. “Comparative Literature in India”, Yearbook of Comparative and • General Literature, 8, 1959 also included in Contribution to Comparative Literature • Germany and India, ed. Naresh Guha (Jadavpur 1979). • Dev, Amiya Dev, "Comparative Literature in India" page 5 of 8 CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 2.4 (2000): http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/clcweb/vol2/iss4/10 • Koelb, Claton and Susan Noakes. The Comparative Perspective on Literature: Approaches to Theory and Practice. 1988. Cornell University Press.
  • 25. Thank you • This presentation will be available on www.slideshare.net/dilipbarad • It will be followed by quiz based on this presentation. • www.dilipbarad.com • dilipbarad@gmail.com

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