Contemporary Debates in Literary Studies

DRAP-GA 1302
Spring 2016
Professor: Alan Itkin
Introduction to Literary Cultures II
Contemporary Debates in Literary Studies:
World Literature, Comparison, Translation, Digitization
In this course we will discuss several recent influential works of literary theory, in order to
investigate the issues and debates occupying literary studies today. Being a literary scholar
means being part of a larger conversation in literary fields. The goal of this course is to
introduce students to the terms and ideas that are guiding the conversation in these fields today.
In this course, we will focus on four issues that have been the subject of sometimes heated debate
in literary studies: world literature, comparison, translation, and digitization. In doing so, we
will engage with several important question that literary studies is grappling with, including:
How does literature circulate in our global world, and how does this affect the way literary texts
are written, read, and interpreted? What is the place in the academy for scholarship that views
texts through this global lens, rather than situating them in their immediate national and
linguistic context? What role does translation play in the global system in which literature
circulates, and how does it affect the way we understand texts as discrete linguistic entities?
What part does digital technology play in the production, circulation, and consumption of
literature, and how does it help us develop new methods of literary analysis and interpretation?