World Literature and the Internationalization of Nationalism

deadline for submissions: 
September 20, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
ACLA 2019
contact email: 

The resurgence in the early 2000s of “World Literature” as a theoretical framework and institutional practice was coeval with another capacious category also prominent in the debates of those years: globalization. While the ACLA decided that its decennial report merited the title Comparative Literature in an Age of Globalization and university curricula made room for interdisciplinary global studies in their programs, the updated definition of World Literature as a “mode of circulation and of reading”—in the now famous characterization by David Damrosch—sparked an enormous interest that translated, in subsequent years, into the creation of new teaching appointments and academic programs, the reediting of anthologies, and the foundation of institutes and journals. And even though the comprehensive implications and cultural risks of “world literature” and “globalization” never ceased to be debated, the dynamics commonly associated with these terms—e.g., translation, internationalism, circulation, a linguafranca, migration, hybridity, etc.—appeared to imply a degree of consensus about a geopolitical reality for which the “nation” was more a historical premise than a destination. However, fifteen years later and as the second decade of the twenty-first century comes to its end, the ideological imprint of the nation comes again to color international debates, as evinced by a range of populist and nationalist rhetorics that characterize a number of contemporary governments around the world. What seems to unite these movements and become progressively more global are, ironically, forms of extreme nationalism and nativism. 


This panel proposes interrogating the state of this phenomenon by assessing the dialogue, or lack thereof, between practices and understandings of World Literature and the current spread of nationalism and nativism. How does the debate on World Literature respond to the global, geopolitical realities of far-right movements that are in dialogue with each other? In other words, what does World Literature do in the age of international nationalisms? What are the ethics and tactics of teaching World Literature in the face of this newest iteration of globalization?


The panel welcomes papers addressing these questions. Topics might include but are not limited, to:


  • Nativism and translation.
  • The asymmetry between the circulation of texts and the huge impediments on the circulation of peoples.
  • Pedagogical practices and the challenges faced by institutions of higher education.
  • World Literature and cultures of diaspora and internationalisms vis à vis the phenomenon of nativism.
  • The rise of the Anglophone canon and the predominance of English as the global language of political and economic transactions.