NeMLA panel: Reimagining the Space of World Literature: The View from the Periphery

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
K. Onur Toker and Haram Lee
contact email: 

This is a cfp for the panel, "Reimagining the Space of World Literature: The View from the Periphery" in the 2018 NeMLA convention (Pittsburgh, April 12-15, 2018).

In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels appear to celebrate the emergence of "world literature" – Weltliteratur – as an entirely salutary phenomenon which is at long last emancipating humanity from the shackles of national narrow-mindedness. And yet, it is worth remembering that they also immediately place this happy emergence in the decidedly more somber context of a wider historical process whereby "even the most barbaric nations" are compelled, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois capitalist model of "civilization".The work of Pascale Casanova and Franco Moretti may be regarded as attempts to conceptualize this unequal space of world literature in structural terms borrowed primarily from the "world-systems theory" of Fernand Braudel and Immanuel Wallerstein. Postcolonial critics such as Edward Said and Frantz Fanon and postmodern theorists such as Deleuze and Gattari have challenged the asymmetrical power dynamic embedded in the concept of world literature, but in our view we need more of reexaminations of world literature from the perspective of the periphery, based on concrete cases in diverse literary traditions in the world. Therefore, we invite papers from a diverse array of perspectives that will attempt to reimagine the geography of world literature from hitherto marginalized perspectives. This panel tries to consider such questions as: 

• How does the worldliness of world literature register in the literatures of so-called “semi-peripheral” territories such as present day Turkey or South Korea or 19th century Russia or, for that matter, 16th century England?
• Is the cosmopolitanism of world literature inevitably Eurocentric? Are there forms of imagining worldliness and cosmopolitanism that do not succumb to one or another form of ethnocentrism?

We welcome papers from a variety of fields including (but not limited to) Anglophone literature, Francophone literature, African literature, Caribbean literature, Irish literature, Asian Literature, Asian American Literature, and African American Literature.

Send inquiries to K. Onur Toker ( and Haram Lee ( If you are interested in presenting a paper, please submit an abstract by September 30th, 2017, through the website: