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Romanticism, World Literature, and the Question of a Global Archive

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Organizer: Emily Sun

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This seminar invites participants to approach Romanticism as a pivotal historical period in European and global modernity, as a literary and artistic movement that goes beyond the late 18th-early 19th century and the borders of Western Europe, and as a set of concepts and methods of generative importance for contemporary literary, critical, and cultural theory. Contributors are asked to re-assess the relationship of Romanticism to the formation of "world literature," itself conceptualized in the early 19th century as a term contemporary with Romanticism and corollary to "national literature," then instituted all over the world through colonialist as well as non-Western auto-genetic practices throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and that continues to evolve today as a framework for studying literary creation and production in its multi-lingual, international, transnational, and global complexity.

This seminar seeks to foster conversation over key questions for literary studies in general that Romanticism brings into heightened relief. What are the limits of European thought and literature in a modern world decidedly yet unevenly affected by European imperialism and colonialism? Might Romanticism designate not so much a stable and privileged European template of modernity and literary modernity but, more dynamically, a nexus through which heterogeneous local archives, including the European, grapple with the pressures and possibilities of modernity and come into contact with one another to form what may be called a "global archive?"  What are the lessons of Romanticism for reading and teaching such a global archive?

Seminar participants will consist only of contributors to The Cambridge Companion to Romanticism and World Literature.

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