Various things I’m working on (in no particular order)
LAW AND WORLD LITERATURE
In current scholarship in world literature studies, there is no reference to the role played by law. This is shocking insofar as circulation –a key concept when it comes to approaching world literature– has been made possible and shaped by law, namely, copyright, translation legislation, reprint laws, etc. I’ve been researching on this topic –a field within the movement of law & literature, law of literature– and presenting in various venues, such as U of Wisconsin-Madison, Central China National University, and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The results of this research will be published in 2019 by Oxford UP and Critical Inquiry.
COMPARATIVE LITERATURE AND ENDANGERED LANGUAGES
In 1992, Hans-Jürgen Sasse, who established the model for the process of language death, stated that ‘[i]n the last five hundred years about half the known languages of the world have disappeared’. In the same year, Michael Krauss predicted that 50 % of world’s languages will become extinct during the twenty-first century, an optimistic prognosis also used by UNESCO. The process of language death is unevenly distributed across the world, with the Americas with 61% of languages at risk, Asia with 38%, Europe with 35%, the Pacific with 34%, and Africa with 17%. If comparative literature, as posited by George Steiner, ‘delights in […] the prodigal diversity of natural languages’, which future awaits the discipline in a context of language death progressing at the rate of about one language in three months according to the data of the Endangered Languages Catalogue? I’m working on a position paper concerning the concept of ‘environmental comparative literature’, as presented at Queen Mary – U of London and U zu Köln. I’ve also co-written with my colleague Anna Brígido a paper on indigenous languages and literatures in Abya Yala/The Americas, which will be published in 2019 by Walter de Gruyter.
WORLD LITERATURE FROM BELOW
Whereas the ideas of canon, classics, and international literary prizes are still central to world literature studies, I’m interested in non-elitist practices of world literature. An example of such practices is cartonera, a publishing movement that began in Argentina in 2003 and has since spread to many countries throughout the world. Cartonera books are made from recycled cardboard and sold at the cost of production in order to increase access to literature. Another example, this time concerning circulation, is the biblioburro, a circulating library that makes books available to children for free across the Colombian forest and savanna (and has spread to other parts of the world as well). I’ve published the first results of my research on this topic in the paper titled ‘Literatura mundial en biblioburro. Un caso procomún de circulación literaria’.
‘Minor literature’ is an elusive concept in literary scholarship. Its widespread use stands in sharp contrast to the paucity of its theoretical development, which is limited to Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s 1975 seminal book Kafka. Pour une littérature mineure. In relation to this concept, conceptual clarification is needed to show, on the one hand, how Deleuze and Guattari’s arguments on minor literatures
significantly differ from those of what they posit as their source (Kafka’s
discussion on kleine Literaturen) and, on the other hand, the existence of alternative genealogies. I’ve presented the results of my research on small/minor literatures in several venues, such as Sichuan U, U de Minho, CUNY-The Graduate Center, Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia U, and U degli Studi di Roma ‘La Sapienza’. I’ve created a research network as well. Here you can listen to my podcast for the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia U. Together with my colleagues Giovanna Di Rosario (digital culture) and Matteo Ciastellardi (digital humanities), we have analysed small/minor literatures from the perspective of digital humanities in ‘On Writing a comparative literary history: Delocalizing minor literatures in European languages in the Age of “Big Data”‘.
MANFRED GNÄDINGER: LAND ART ARTIST & WRITER
The German artist Manfred Gnädinger (1936-2002) led a hermit’s life in Camelle (Camariñas, A Coruña – Costa da Morte), where he created the only museum-garden by the sea in the world. While his artwork has attracted some attention, his extensive writings remain unknown, as his library and archives have been discovered several years after his death. I’m working on Gnädinger’s writing in connection to his artwork and museum from an ecocritical perspective. During the conference ‘A época do espazo: estado e novas perspectivas’, which was held at the U de Santiago de Compostela 8-10 April 2019, I presented a paper titled ‘La Casa do Alemán: una lectura ecocrítica de la morada del ser’, in which I analyse Gnädinger’s museum/garden/home in connection to Martin Heidegger’s reflections on Bauen, Wohnen, Denken. Research on Gnädinger’s work is one of the activities carried out by the Galician laboratory of ecocriticism, which I’ve founded.