While the literatures of the (third) world are being rapidly curricularized in revamped Comparative/World or Postcolonial literature classes, the theories and methodologies used to interpret and evaluate these texts are still drawn primarily from the Western tradition. The field of literary theory remains a resolutely Eurocentric high ground relatively untouched by the rising tide of globalization reshaping American academia. Neither the marginalized subdiscipline of Comparative Poetics nor the more influential field of Postcolonial Studies has managed to challenge effectively the assumption that theory is the product of a uniquely Western philosophical tradition. This essay argues for the need to globalize the field of literary theory beyond inducting a few non-Western greats into theory's hall of fame toward radically redefining theory itself in ways that include not only dominant, formal, explicit high textual traditions of poetics, but also subaltern and popular epistemologies that may be “emergent” or “latent” in praxis. Toward this end, the essay proposes an alternative in the form of “world literary knowledges” and presents three examples of “literary knowledge” from the (pre- and post-colonial) Indian context.
Revathi Krishnaswamy; Toward World Literary Knowledges: Theory in the Age of Globalization. Comparative Literature 1 September 2010; 62 (4): 399–419. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-2010-024
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