The idea of narrative hybridity was central to the work of the Russian literary theorist Alexander Veselovsky (1838 – 1906), particularly to his unfinished work Historical Poetics. For Veselovsky and the Russian theorists who followed him, including Mikhail Bakhtin and Yuri M. Lotman, the boundary rather than the center is the site of hybridization and thus literary and cultural transformation. This article argues that this model of hybridization on the border can point in the direction of a synthesis between the theoretical impulse of contemporary attempts to conceive of a world literary system, with their scale and their concern with models of circulation, and those of postcolonial criticism and creolization theory, with their focus on hybridization and literary and cultural transformation on the periphery and mistrust of centripetal accounts of literary and cultural history. The article examines how Veselovsky's account of the role of narrative tradition and narrative hybridization on the periphery demonstrates the potential of geographic borderlands and periods of historical transition and borderline genres and is a useful touchstone for the work of scholars arguing for the redefinition of traditional understandings of center and periphery in literary history.

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