Toronto Metropolitan University

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Exile, Media, Capital: Interpreting Calendar’s Systems of Exchange

posted on 2024-01-29, 21:24 authored by Monique TschofenMonique Tschofen

[Introduction]: "In the American Comparative Literature Association’s 2014–15 State of the Discipline Report, in an entry titled “Comparative Non-Literature,” Scott Kushner argues that non-literary media provide an opportunity to “reimagine what the discipline of literary studies takes as its object of study and its raison d’être.” His focus is on how non-literary media can help the literary scholar attend to the materiality of texts, appreciate the variety of reading strategies they solicit, and also force a reconsideration of core concepts such as “author, text, and genre – but also edition, audi-ence, character, and narrative” in addition to “generic categories such as novel, poem, and play.” However, what Kushner does not say is that once the discipline’s doors open to consider electronic texts, films, pho-tographs, fashion, social media, and the like, alongside print literature, the complexity of the project of comparison becomes fractal, and yet its mission all the more important to get right. In order to trace the travel-ling of cultural practices over time, across national boundaries, in and out of languages, through genres, across media, and into and out of every-day life, comparatists today require multiple intersecting literacies. They must understand intertextuality as well as intermediality and transmedi-ality. They must have deep knowledge of print and oral cultures, as well as visual cultures. They must appreciate the symbolic, ideological, and the material determinants of culture. They must remain conscious at all times of the ethics of comparison, aware of the perils of mistranslation and the dangers of cultural appropriation, and simultaneously reflexive about the forces that govern their own interests in seeking knowledge about the other. Yet the contemporary comparatist knows that, with this expanded body of texts in literary and non-literary media to study, often comes expanded intellectual resources – new guiding metaphors, refocused sets of research questions, and elaborated models for research methods that together make this new century’s cross-cultural and cross-medial work ever more rich and meaningful."




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