Is the “global” in “global literature” the same as the “global” in “global climate change”?

Tuesday, 11 April, 2017 - 13:00

WiSER invites you to a lunchtime seminar by

J. Daniel Elam
(University of Toronto)

Is the “global” in “global literature” the same as the “global” in “global climate change”?

This talk examines various case studies in literary criticism to highlight the intertwined histories of world literature and the Anthropocene. I argue for the importance of connecting Erich Auerbach’s commitment to “irdische” literature and criticism and Frantz Fanon’s commitment to “la terre.” Auerbach’s irdische is often mistranslated in English as “secular” although it literally means “earthly,” and I think we must understand Fanon’s terre as quite literal and therefore not at all synonymous with the famously untranslatable “le monde.” In the age of the Anthropocene, it becomes imperative to think climate change and world literature together – not least because literature in the Anglophone book market pre-packaged as “global literature” has arrived from locations that have already begun to suffer the effects of global climate change. My argument here is that we already possess historical precedent for this form of literary analysis, and that discussions of global literature have always been, not incidentally, also discussions about the environment.

Tuesday, 11th April 2017

WiSER Seminar Room,
6th Floor, Richard Ward Building,
East Campus, Wits University

All welcome.