LINKS: Multilingual Locals and Significant Geographies

 ‘Multilingual Locals and Significant Geographies: For a Bottom-up Approach to World Literature’

PANEL with Francesca Orsini (SOAS), Professor of Hindi and South Asian Literature and Karima Laachir (SAOS) and Sara Marzagora (SOAS).

19 January 2016, 18.00-20.00 in Room 234, Senate House (second floor)

“World literature is literature that circulates globally. It is mostly in English. Its main genre is the novel.” This is a caricature, but only to a point, of how World literature as a set of discourses is shaping the field of literary studies. Non-Western literatures occupy positions with reference to a single timeline and a single map, and translations supposedly ensure that worthy texts make it into the global canon. What does not circulate globally is provincial, not good enough, not “world literature”.

This picture bears little resemblance to the multilingual world of literature, which consists not of a single map but of many worlds with “significant geographies” specific to language, group, and genre. By exploring the often fractured “multilingual locals” and “significant geographies” of literature in north India, Morocco, and Ethiopia—each with different experiences of literary multilingualism, colonial diglossia, and continuing oral traditions—we seek to establish a multilingual and located approach to world literature in place of meta-categories like “global” and “world”. This panel, with Francesca Orsini, Karima Laachir, and Sara Marzagora (SOAS), will address some of these issues: The problem with the “world” in world literature; the notions of “multilingual locals” and “significant geographies”; colonial amnesias and the invention/ marginalization of folk literature, and the strategic “reading together” of e.g. Francophone and Arabic literature. 

 All welcome! Refreshments will be served.

 LINKS is a collaboration between London institutions involved in teaching and research in comparative literary studies, to promote dialogue and cooperation. Participating institutions include Birkbeck, King’s, Goldsmiths, Queen Mary, Royal Holloway and SOAS and UCL.