Galin Tihanov presented a talk "Scales of Comparison: The Rise of Comparative Literature and the Return of 'World Literature'"

On September 6, a lecture by IGITI Chief Research Fellow and George Steiner Professor of Comparative Literature at Queen Mary University of London Galin Tihanov was held at the Higher School of Economics. See the abstract and photos of the event.


In this talk I trace the early flourishing, subsequent languishing, and, eventually, rapid rehabilitation of "world literature" as a particular discourse on literature. The continuous history of "world literature" as a discourse is interrupted by the long domination of "comparative literature" which operates a different scale of comparison. To understand why "world literature" fails to gain prominence until the early 21st century, despite its early visibility from the 1770s to the mid-nineteenth century, we need to explain the factors that facilitate the rise of "comparative literature" as a competing prism. It is in this context that I briefly address, at the end of this talk, the return of "world literature" as a discourse responding more adequately (though far from unproblematically) to a transnationally organised world.