“World Literature” in a Time of Globalization

“World literature” is a term often referred to in academic settings to include writing from around the world and from different times that may feature varied perspectives based on these factors. However, in a time of high-speed internet and global interconnections and interdependencies, what does this term actually mean? For instance, does it refer to literature from different parts of the world, or from different “worlds”, or from different worldly perspectives? What is generally meant by the term "literature" and what should it mean?

Also, with such an emphasis on “literature” in a written form (often translated into English) and with the usual exclusion of more traditional storytelling mean such as oral stories, does the concept of world literature in any way actually represent the “world” and different forms of literature and storytelling?

  • Books such as "Shantaram" and "Life of Pi" would be interesting for this topic of globalized literature as they both are told from the voice of a diasporic narrative. "Shantaram" is told from the perspective of an Australian living in the slums of Bombay and working with the criminal underworld. "Life of Pi" is told from the perspective of a person from India that is now located in Canada. – 50caliburlexicon 7 years ago
  • I think this is a very interesting idea especially if you were to take a look at how the publishing industry ultimately controls our idea of 'World literature.' A lot of the big powerhouse publishers in the US and UK actually stray away from translating literature, especially literature placed outside of the Western World, such as that from the Middle East or remote parts of Asia. Unfortunately, the publishers don't believe in a lot of 'world literature' because statistically these titles don't sell as much. They're going so far as to remove the translator's name from the cover page because they believe it will help them sell more of this 'world literature,' but translation is a whole other issue. I think there is a lot of exploration with this topic though! – eegibson 7 years ago

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