Guest Lecture: Peripherocentrism – Geopolitics of Comparative Literatures between Ethnocentrism and Cosmopolitanism

Prof. Dr. Marko Juvan
(Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana)

26 April 2023 (Wednesday) at 14:00 CET
Institute of World Literature SAS (conference room + online)

Institute of World Literature SAS in cooperation with Czech and Slovak Association of Comparative Literature 

Regardless of its actual position in the world-system, each national literary ecology typically perceives its position as the cognitive center. In this respect, peripheral literatures fall into what might be called “peripherocentrism.” As a narrative discourse that shapes collective memory, national literary history is essentially ethnocentric, but it is, especially in so-called small literatures, a gesture of worlding, that is, of imagined self-location in the literary world-system. Comparative literature emerged at a time when ethnocentric literary histories dominated both global centers and peripheries. In its early and classical phase, comparative literature aimed to overcome national parochialism. Nevertheless, recent research has exposed the Eurocentric and ethnocentric orientation of cosmopolitan concepts, including Goethe’s idea of world literature. The literary world-system channels interliterary exchange in ways that correspond to the economic inequality between centers and perihepries. In addition to writers, literary historians themselves depend on the global status of their language and literature. Consequently, comparatists tend to incorporate their cosmopolitan perspectives and methods into ethnocentric, even nationalist agendas: they world their home literature through cross-national comparisons and argue for their geopolitical prestige. The comparatists of the core countries  consolidate the world-systemic dominance of their literatures, while the comparatists of the periphery attempt to place the internationally lesser-known literary production of their homelands – which they nonetheless consider central in their peripherocentrism – in the virtuality of world literature.

Marko Juvan is  a member of Academia Europaea, a senior researcher at the ZRC SAZU Institute of Slovenian Literature and Literary Studies, a professor of literary theory and Slovenian literature at the University of Ljubljana, and a member of the ICLA Executive Committee. His recent publications on genre theory, intertextuality, literary geography, Slovenian Romanticism, and world literature include History and Poetics of Intertextuality (Purdue University Press, 2008), Literary Studies in Reconstruction (Peter Lang, 2011), Prostori slovenske književnosti (ed., Založba ZRC, 2016), Hibridni žanri (LUD Literatura, 2017; Serbian translation 2019), Worlding a Peripheral Literature (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), Med majem ’68 in novembrom ’89: Transformacije sveta, literature in teorije (ed., Založba ZRC, 2021).

Meeting ID: 828 0143 5424
Passcode: 483164