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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: April 2014

Comparative Literature and Ex-centricity

from PART 1 - Theories of Comparative Literature, World Literatures, and Comparative Cultural Studies


Abstract: In her article “Comparative Literature and Ex-centricity” Tutun Mukherjee argues for the discipline of comparative literature to locate itself globally. The journey of comparative literature from an idea to a discipline has been a long and arduous one from its inception in the nineteenth century. The hallmark of this journey—fraught with crisis and anxiety—is its bi-directionality. While on the one hand there has been a continuous churning within the discipline, on the other hand, there has been a travel outwards into time and space which meant grappling with and addressing new issues and realities in an attempt to re-invent itself. Mukherjee discusses aspects of the discipline's self-examination that is marked by rumination and reflexivity, leading towards its resurgence. It also discusses the possible role comparative literature can play in new contexts and locations.


Time and space—or history and geography—inform our literary imagination: they shape our thoughts and direct our perception of the world around us. Over a decade into the new millennium, drastic temporal and spatial changes have so re-mapped the human social, geo-political and ecological habitat that questions regarding the nature and function of literature—what it is and/or what it should be—demand to be re-visited. Such re-assessment would also make evident the successive changes that have become manifest in the sphere of its production, consumption, and reception.