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Reading Global. Constructions of World Literature and Latin America

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - RG (Reading Global. Constructions of World Literature and Latin America)

Reporting period: 2018-09-01 to 2020-02-29

The debate on world literature is among the most significant cultural historical controversies of our time. This contribution to the debate aims to pursue two goals in particular: a groundbreaking theoretical approach to the current shift in focus of the concept of World Literature that will involve both the displacement of Eurocentric forms of knowledge and a comprehensive review of selection processes in a globalized publishing world; and an innovative investigation of the production and selection of literature that eschews an established canon as a point of departure. This approach is based, among other things, on newly available archival materials from publishing houses active on the international market, which will provide information on mechanisms of exclusion in the global book market.

Informed by multiple critical perspectives on current theories, this five-year, seven-member project will investigate the implicit selection mechanisms involved in the global circulation of literature, which touch on the material, economic, and visual dimensions of these processes and have so far received little to no attention. The project takes as its focus the exemplary case of Latin American literatures and their global circulation for the period from 1959 to the present. Unique among global regions in its comparative cultural, historical, and political homogeneity, Latin America offers the opportunity to investigate processes of external projection (exoticization), mechanisms of exclusion, and current transformations of the global market of culture. This interdisciplinary project combines literary studies methodologies with a cultural studies perspective on the World Literature debate and likewise integrates approaches from visual studies and economics. The global comparative analysis of publishing policies will provide groundbreaking knowledge on the processes of reception, canon formation and exclusion in the international circulation of literature. As Literature is a fundamental medium of human communication and cultural contact it is crucial to understand which are the parameters used in the circulation of this medium - which images of different societies do circulate around the world and which criteria do influence these processes of circulation?
"Ongoing projects cover a wide range of aspects of global circulation of Latin American literature and its construction as World Literature: publishers as the main agents in constructing World Literature and their politics are investigated by an examination of archival materials to provide concrete and empirical results (PI Gesine Müller’s project on the German publisher Suhrkamp as a principal European agent in constructing World Literature from Latin America); two projects deal with the specific politics of literary prizes as key instruments in constructions of global prestige and visibility (first, a concrete case of the Spanish publisher Anagrama and its globalizing function of Latin American Literature and secondly an economics-grounded and theoretical project on the creation of literary value); another project aims at studying the specific literary and extra-literary constructions of author-imagery in contemporary and globalized Latin American literature (project on Mexican writers Valeria Luiselli and Julián Herbert); the most innovative project on an international scale is probably the one dedicated to the reception and circulation of Latin American literatures in China, the question of who is excluded and why is another key question of globally circulating literatures and is equally addressed in another subproject (case study of Brazilian author Clarice Lispector); and, finally, theoretical work on how to conceptualize global spaces of and from literary texts completes the different points of view on the projects topic of World Literature (study on world-metaphors in Latin American literatures).

Conferences and activities performed from the beginning of the project (see

- Project Inauguration ""Reading Global. Constructions of World Literature and Latin America"", 18 November 2015
- International Conference: ""Poesía española en el mundo. Procesos de filtrado, selección y canonización"", 27/28 June 2016
- Cologne Talks on World Literature, 7 November 2016
- International Conference: ""Re-mapping World Literature. Estéticas, mercados y epistemologías entre América Latina y el Sur Global"" - January 31 and February 1, 2017
- International Workshop: Traducciones y transiciones entre América Latina y la lectura global, 22 June, 2017 (in cooperation with Prof. Julio Ortega, Brown University)
- Cologne Talks on World Literature, 14 November 2017
- International Conference ""World Literature, Cosmopolitanism, Globality: Beyond, Against, Post, Otherwise"", 24/25 January 2018 (in cooperation with Prof. Mariano Siskind, Harvard University)
- Cologne Talks on World Literature, 14 November 2018
- International Conference ""World Editors. Dynamics of Global Publishing and the Latin American Case between the Archive and the Digital Age"", 1-3 July 2019 (in cooperation with Prof. Gustavo Guerrero, Université Paris-Seine)

For a full list of conference participations and panels see:"
- finalization of the PD and PhD-projects

6 monographs and three edited volumes to be published

further events:
- Cologne Talks on World LIterature 2019
Cover Re-mapping World Literature