World Literature, Canon, and Literary Criticism

Research output: Chapters, Conference Papers, Creative and Literary Works (RGC: 12, 32, 41, 45)12_Chapter in an edited book (Author)peer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTensions in World Literature
Subtitle of host publicationBetween the Local and the Universal
EditorsWeigui Fang
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9789811306358
ISBN (Print)9789811306341
Publication statusPublished - 2018


There is no doubt that world literature is on the rise and gathering momentum in literary studies everywhere today, not just in the USA and Europe, but also in China, Korea, India, Turkey, Brazil, and many other countries in other parts of the world. We may look at some publications and institutions as indicators of the rise of world literature, though the books and journals mentioned here are not meant to be exhaustive and complete. Publishers like Norton, Longman, and Bedford have all published anthologies of world literature, and Routledge has published a companion to world literature as well as a reader and a concise history. Brill and Wiley- Blackwell also take an active interest in publishing books related to world literature, and there are of course university presses with similar interests.1 Publication of such books is mostly based on market investigations that gauge readers’ interests and demands, as well as on the expectation of a new trend with potential for further research and scholarship. These are publications in English, but there are also publications in other languages, such as the Korean journal Chigujŏk segye munhak or Global World Literature, recently started in Seoul in 2012, and the long-standing Chinese journal in Beijing, Shijie wenxue 世界文学 or World Literature, which has introduced many works of foreign literature to Chinese readers in translation since 1953. The MLA has a volume on Teaching World Literature edited by David Damrosch, and Damrosch’s own book, What Is World Literature?, first published by Princeton University Press in 2003 and since translated into several languages, has become probably the single most influential text in the study of world literature. Launched in March 2016 and published by Brill, the new Journal of World Literature is the first important journal that provides an international forum to the study of world literature with a truly global vision and high aims. Under my editorship, Palgrave Macmillan will publish a book series with the general title Canon and World Literature. These publications are, or will be, widely used as materials in courses on world literature offered at many universities, and Harvard’s Institute for World Literature (IWL), with David Damrosch as director and inaugurated in Beijing in 2011, continued in Istanbul in 2012, at Harvard in 2013, Hong Kong in 2014, Lisbon in 2015, back at Harvard in 2016, Copenhagen in 2017, and Tokyo in 2018, has become a successful international platform for both theoretical explorations and pedagogical practices of teaching world literature. The IWL has drawn hundreds of enthusiastic graduate students and faculty members from dozens of countries every summer. There is no denying that most books and articles on world literature are published in America and Europe, and mostly in English, and that scholars like David Damrosch are the moving forces behind the renewed interest in world literature, but anyone criticizing the rise of world literature as just another wave of American influence is simply turning a blind eye to the global situation and the broad international effort and collaboration of scholars in different countries from different continents. That is the reason why our International Dialogue and Forum on world literature held at Beijing Normal University was so timely and important and had such a special meaning. This is yet another clear indication that world literature is on the rise everywhere in our world today.

Citation Format(s)

World Literature, Canon, and Literary Criticism. / Longxi, Zhang.

Tensions in World Literature: Between the Local and the Universal. ed. / Weigui Fang. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. p. 171-190.

Research output: Chapters, Conference Papers, Creative and Literary Works (RGC: 12, 32, 41, 45)12_Chapter in an edited book (Author)peer-review