In THE AGE OF THE WORLD TARGET Rey Chow argues that the task for comparative literature in the twenty-first century is to overcome the logic of self-referentiality underlying both the geopolitics of our era as well as the terms for knowledge production. She traces this shared logic among even the most celebrated self-deconstructionists of Western theory, pointing to their silence regarding one of the most pivotal historical events of the twentieth century: the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Chow’s challenge to comparative literature can be seen as another thread in the ongoing scrutiny over the meaning of “world literature” as the inclusion of previously excluded parts of the literary world require us to question the very terms of comparativist method.
Inspired by critic Daniel Cordle’s description in STATES OF SUSPENSE of the nuclear context as one that produces literature of global significance, this seminar addresses the ways in which atomic bomb literature implicates “the world” itself. Seminar discussion will be organized around the following questions:
* In what ways is atomic bomb literature, as it seeks to make meaning from a world-threatening event, always already world literature? How would this redefine both the concepts of world and literature implied by the term?
* How does atomic bomb literature intersect and challenge Western literary theory?
* With the end of the Cold War do we see the emergence of a “new nuclear criticism”? What might this new criticism look like and how does it differ from the nuclear criticism of thirty years ago?
ACLA 2011 will take place March 31-April 3 in Vancouver, Canada
Department of Comparative Literature
University of Minnesota
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