Universiteit Leiden

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LUCIS Fall Fellow Wen-chin Ouyang

In November and December 2016 LUCIS Fall Fellow Wen-chin Ouyang will deliver five public lectures on Reading Arabic Literature in a Global Context.

Reading Arabic Literature in a Global Context

The past quarter of a century has witnessed the re-emergence and further development of Goethe’s ideas of ‘world literature’, which have provided impetus for and contribution to the transformation of ‘comparative literature’ as well as literary studies and the attendant theory and critical thought. The problematically tangential role of Arabic literature, in fact, non-European literatures in general, in the current theoretical debates about literary studies within the framework of ‘comparative literature’ and ‘world literature’ has meant that ‘comparative literature’ and ‘world literature’, more often than not informed by translation and driven by translation studies, have remained Eurocentric, and that the study of Arabic literature continues to be grounded in the agenda and methodology of ‘area studies’.

Would it be possible to bring the theoretical rigour of ‘comparative literature’ and ‘world literature’ to bear on the study of Arabic literature without sacrificing the accuracy and depth of knowledge inherent in ‘area studies’? More important, how can the study of Arabic literature contribute to both literary studies and area studies, theoretically, methodologically, and interpretively, as it interrogates and engages with the priorities and methods of ‘area studies’, ‘comparative literature’ and ‘world literature’? This series of five ‘lectures’ explores and intertwine these two possibilities by reading Arabic literature in a global context, situating it in moments and sites of cultural encounter (across time, e.g., between pasts and presents, and space, i.e., with other cultures and literatures).


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