full name / name of organization:
Cornell University Comparative Literature
The Comparative Cultures and Literature Forum at Cornell University invites submissions for its
biennial interdisciplinary spring conference:
Keynote speaker: Professor Roland Greene (Stanford University)
Plenary speaker: Professor Natalie Melas (Cornell University)
Ithaca, New York
March 12-13, 2010
* We are welcoming submissions from all colleagues in Comparative Literature, graduate students and faculty alike.
Is comparison a method, or is it always in need of a method? Has comparison of specific languages
and literatures become the big unthought of literary and cultural analysis– supposed but unquestioned? In light of recent scholarly debate on the demands and consequences of the global
scope of what comparison means, this conference seeks to discuss methodological questions that
pose themselves in comparative research projects and in the constitution of inter-literary and cultural
in the study of multiple national, philosophic, and linguistic spaces as well as historical time periods
from Antiquity and the Middle Ages to the present.
In terms of methodology, Jonathan Culler has recently argued that in the age of area studies,
comparatists who tackle differing literary and cultural traditions should distinguish themselves by
focusing on a strict boundary, on poetics. It can also be contended that comparative studies should
serve as a meeting point of not only languages and literatures but of disciplines. The methodological
questions that the discipline faces today abound: the status of close textual analysis, multilingualism,
translation, theory, interdisciplinarity, or the politics of cultural comparison. How can we go beyond
“internationalism” and create methods for the transnational study of literature or cultures?
In terms of practice, the study of comparative literary traditions was first established in the United
States by European emigrants, which continues to influence the field’s constitution in America both
through the choice of the theory privileged and literatures analyzed in pivotal comparative studies.
Should this tradition inform our own comparative practices? How can our disciplinary practices be
compared to other forms of interdisciplinary, translingual and transcultural study of texts, in the US
and abroad? Does it make a difference where in the world comparisons are made? Does one have to
posit a unity or equivalence in order for comparison to be possible? If there is an added freedom in
comparative literature, is there also an added responsibility? Are there thus particular ethics and
politics in comparative literature and studies that do not impose themselves in the same way to
scholars of a single language and literature?
We invite proposals that study the methodology and practice of comparison in literary and cultural
studies of different cultures, linguistic traditions, and time periods. We also welcome comparative
case studies that situate themselves in the methodological discussions of the field as such.
The politics of literary and cultural value
History as comparison
Contextualization, comparative formalism
Methodology of “global poetics”
Transnational study of literature
Status of “small” languages and literatures in comparative literature and the humanities
Center and the periphery
Race and comparison
Evolutionary models, developmental models
Gender and Sexuality as comparison
History and origins of comparative literature
Time and Space in comparison
Incommensurability and equivalence (Glissant: “equivalences that do not unify”)
Comparison as com-paraison (co-appearance, Jean-Luc Nancy)
Status of close reading – “distant reading” (Franco Moretti)
Figurations of comparison in literary texts
Methods of comparative literature in the US – outside of the US
Comparing comparative literatures
Status of inter-disciplinarity in comparative literature and the humanities
The limits of comparison in comparative literature and the humanities
Comparative Literature as the “multiple poetics of the world” (Edouard Glissant)
Comparison as such in cultural studies and in comparative literature
Comparative Literature as systematic thought about literature
Theory and methodology of comparison
Abstracts (maximum 300 words) for 20 minute papers due to email@example.com by
Friday, Dec. 4 2009.
Submissions should include the title of the paper and the presenter’s name and email address.