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For World Literature by Caroline Levine

Hayot argues that all previous expansions of the field allowed us to keep telling the story of literature as if Europe always came first, with the rest of the world appearing belated and imitative. This was because traditional period categories were organized around European innovations, such as the “discovery” of the “New World” or the rise of the novel. The frame of world literature could be the first scalar shift to succeed in unsettling this habit, stopping us from simply slotting literary texts into an uncritical Eurochronology. Hayot recommends adopting unfamiliar spans of time—the longue durée of modernity, for example, or a century that runs from 1850 to 1950—to see what happens to our knowledge of literature if we divide up time in new ways.

Moretti’s now famous call for “distant reading” seeks to unsettle traditional scholarship even more dramatically. To address the vastness of world literature, he invites a new kind of collaborative work among scholars working in national literatures. He has begun to use quantitative methods—text tagging and data mining and mapping—to grasp a field of objects much too large for any single scholar to know using the traditional techniques of close reading. He presents visualizations of information in place of conventional interpretive arguments: maps of the different global distributions of action films and comedies, branching trees that track the development of genres. Analyzing literary change through evolutionary theory and drawing his economic history from the study of world-systems, Moretti introduces a whole range of unfamiliar theoretical approaches to apprehend literature’s massive new scale.

 

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Despre Claudiu Degeratu
Expert in securitate nationala, internationala, NATO, UE, aparare si studii strategice

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