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If world literature is the study of literary forms that travel, as many current conceptions of world literature would have it, then the short story ought to figure prominently in these conversations. In theory, the brevity of the form allows for swift translatability and for circulation in a wide range of media, including print magazines and journals, and increasingly, the internet. Yet there is no sustained discussion of the form in world literature scholarship, even though world literature anthologies are dominated by the short story form.

When we look beyond Europe and the Anglophone world, I suggest, we see that the short story has played a crucial role in forging national literatures, consolidating authorial reputations and shaping readerly tastes and public debates, but it has done so in ways that are not readily assimilable to the literary critical concepts put forth by world literature (e.g. modernism, postcolonialism, romanticism, realism, etc). I  argue that we should read the short story’s absence from critical conversations about world literature as symptomatic of the hierarchical relations between global literary cultures and of how little world literature scholarship has done to shift them.

Bio:

Shital Pravinchandra is a Lecturer in Comparative Literature and Culture at Queen Mary University of London.

She has published in Cultural Critique, Interventions and New Literary History. She is currently completing her first monograph Same Difference: Postcolonial Studies in the Age of Life Science. Her new project considers world literature and the short story.

Venue: Russell Square College Buildings Room: 4426

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Contact email: fo@soas.ac.uk