30.11. Workshop: World, War, Literature

30 November 2022 at 13:00–17:00
Tampere University, Room Pinni B3110
Kanslerinrinne 1, 33014 Tampere

World, War, Literature

—An international workshop on world literature in a warring Europe

Guest speakers:

  • Jernej Habjan, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
  • Hrvoje Tutek, University of Zagreb
  • Sezgin Boynik, editor of Rab-Rab: Journal of Political and Formal Inquiries in Art, Helsinki

Organised by Natalya Bekhta, Tampere Institute for Advanced Study & Narrare: Centre for Interdisciplinary Narrative Studies

Debates about world literature, having re-emerged at the turn of this century (Fredric Jameson; Pascale Casanova; Franco Moretti; Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; David Damrosch), have become a predominantly Anglo-American endeavour. World-literary peripheries are usually engaged in this enterprise in order to expand canons, de-centre ‘the West’ or re-centre ‘the margins’ in the already-familiar conceptual interventions. These interventions are also almost exclusively directed at the world-literary core, along the trajectory of the Global South / Global North. Attempts to suggest a radically new understanding of the international literary field and a new way of doing literary studies today are relatively rare (e.g., notably, the Warwick Research Collective). In this workshop we shall be interested in testing the viability of precisely such alternative suggestions and arguments (Tutek 2022).

Specifically, how well are these theories equipped to deal with the literary cultures of the European semi-periphery, including Central and Eastern Europe? This region, formerly part of the so-called Second World, has virtually disappeared from the post-1990s comparative structures and world-literary geographies. The recent Russian-Ukrainian war has brought Central and Eastern Europe into international attention while also exposing the inadequacy of frameworks for analysis of this region. Scholarly and public debates are ridden with tropes inherited from the Cold War and by a lack of variety or nuance in conceptions of European and geopolitical futures. How about the arts? How does the literature of the region attempt to think this time of ours and this new reality? What alternative discursive structures can be excavated from the existing body of works, following the Yugoslav wars and the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine (Boynik 2012; Bekhta 2020)?

The subject of world literature has been historically tied to globally relevant socio-cultural events (Habjan 2019). That the latest reactivation of the problem of world literature coincided with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union serves as a case in point. With a new Cold War and a renewed Russian imperialism becoming a reality for many in Europe, it is high time to incorporate the literary cultures of the former Second World into the world-literary geography.


13:00-13:10 Introduction

13:15-14:00 Jernej Habjan “World Literature as War Literature: Debating Weltliteratur to End War, from the Age of Goethe On”

14:00-14:45 Hrvoje Tutek “Global Post-socialism: Narrative Form and Crisis of Historical Imagination after the Cold War”

⸺ 15 min break ⸺

15:00-15:45 Sezgin Boynik on the Rab-Rab Press and the OEI magazine (Special issue on “Concrete and Visual Poetry in Yugoslavia, 1968-1983”)

15:45-16:30 Natalya Bekhta “Let’s Be Realistic: The Novel, Utopia and Ukrainian Fiction after 2014”

16:30-17:00 Wrap-up discussion

18:00 Joint dinner


Join us on site or in Zoom! Link (Meeting ID: 675 0203 1362 , Passcode: 287772)

No registration required

Contact: Natalya.Bekhta@tuni.fi


References & further sources:

Bekhta, Natalya. 2020. “‘We’ and the Language of War: On the Poetry of Serhiy Zhadan.” Style 54 (1): 62-73.

Boynik, Sezgin. 2012. “New collectives: Art networks and cultural policies in post-Yugoslav spaces.” Retracing Images, eds. Daniel Šuber and Slobodan Karamanic. Brill, 2012. 81-105.

Habjan, Jernej. 2019. “The global process of thinking global literature: from Marx’s Weltliteratur to Sarkozy’s littérature-monde.” Journal of Global History 14.3: 395-412.

_____. 2013. “From Cultural Third-Worldism to the Literary World-System.” CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 15.5. Web.

Tutek, Hrvoje. 2015. “The Form of Resistance: Literary Narration and Contemporary Radical Political Experience.” Globalizing Literary Genres, eds. Jernej Habjan and Fabienne Imlinger. Routledge. 264-278.

_____. 2022. Social imaginary and narrative form under global post-socialism: Dubravka Ugrešić, Cormac McCarthy, Roberto Bolaño. PhD Thesis. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.