After Europrovincial Theory: New Directions, New Formations

deadline for submissions: 
September 21, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association
contact email: 

In After Theory, Terry Eagleton writes: “Theory is general, culture specific.” If we read this assessment along with contemporary proclamations of the irrelevance of theory in reading literature, a few assumptions about what is and isn’t considered to be theory come into view. If the interruptions of culture mean death for theory as generalization, how does that immediately mean death of theory tout court? The epistemic scandal (Rey Chow, 2006) behind this melancholic gesture betrays a provincialism of Eurocentric theory. If the generalizations that theory makes possible are no longer possible, and that immediately means all theorization has become outmoded, is it fair to assume that what is being actually mourned is Europrovincial theory’s colonizing promise? In this context, we might ask the following questions: what does it mean to theorize without acceding to the demand of generalization? What does the spatial, temporal, or cultural limit of theory look like? Are all western literary and cultural theories universally applicable and fully adoptive? If theory means systematic reasoning and conceptualizing the structure of thought, methods and epistemology, it exists in all cultures across space and time. What then explains the primacy of the white western theoretical canon even in non-western academic spaces? What does it mean to undo the privilege of western theory and unmake the asymmetric construction of knowledge, to decolonize its production in a non-western context, not merely diversifying it? What would it mean to unthink the north/ south binary in which north is the space of emergence of universal theory and south the laboratory of area study and application of theory? What sort of theory comes into view by deprivileging the colonial encounter? What does a normative and visible theory from global south look like in epistemological terms? How will the normative application of rigorous systematic theories of literature and culture produced in the global south affect Europrovincial reflections on limits of critique and death of theory? We invite interdisciplinary papers with a transnational scope on the universal fallacy of western literary and cultural theories, including but not limited to considerations on:
epistemology of Europrovincial theory

limits of postcritique

theory within and without academia/ activism and theory

race, gender, sexuality in theory

written and oral theory

ethics of theory

theory as language-bound/ language of theory

global, local, and transnational aesthetics

translation and publication of theory


Please submit proposal of 250-300 words with a bionote directly to ACLA submission portal