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Rising world literatures

SEP . 14 2011

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Peking University, July 1, 2011 : A global alliance for world literature studies was inaugurated at Peking University (PKU), as the first congress of the World Literature Association (WLA) debuted at PKU on Friday.


"The Rise of World Literatures"


The association, headquartered at the PKU Institute of World Literature (IWL), aims to “do literary and cultural studies with a truly global vision,” according to Professor Zhao Baisheng, director of the IWL.


"It is a perfect time and place for the meet of literary scholars across the world," said Professor Zhao in the welcoming speech at the congress. “With Beijing's ambition to be a world city, with our university's aim to be a global leader, and with our institute's anxiety to be a cross-cultural ‘grand synthesizer.’ ”


With the theme “The Rise of World Literatures,” the meet focused on "theories of world literature," "themes of world literature," "major writers and world literature," "minor languages and world literature," "national literature as world literature," and "writing of world literary history," according to Professor Zhao.




"I am already 80 years old, so the responsibilities for world literatures research have turned to you, the younger generations,” said Professor Yue Daiyun, a veteran Chinese scholar and director of the PKU Center for Cross-cultural Studies, during her speech at the opening ceremony.


Professor Gayatri C. Spivak from Columbia University


A 25-day twin program, the Summer Institute for World Literature, would launch on July 4 at the IWL. The program, which had invited scholars and students across five continents, was directed by Professor David Damrosch, department chair of comparative literature at Harvard University.




"Our hope is that this intensive month of structured study and informal conversation will provide all of its participants with a solid grounding in approaches to teaching literature in global perspective, with input on their current research and new ideas for future projects, and with a budding network of friendships to support future contacts and collaborations,” according to Professor Damrosch’s welcome notes.


 PKU Professor Zhao Baisheng (L1), Harvard Professor David Damrosch (L2), Professor Yue Daiyun (R2)  


A poetry reading session was held at the ceremony, where practitioners of world literature shared their own works to the audience. The writers included Robert Dixon with the University of Sydney, Australia; French writer Pierre Michon; Femi Osofisan with the University of Ibadan, Nigeria; and Chinese poet Zhai Yongming.


Edited by: Qian Xin 

Photo from: Muc School of Foreign Studies

Source: PKU School of Foreign Languages