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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2021

Debjani Ganguly
University of Virginia
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World literature dwells in our time and in times past. As a treasured heritage of artistic expression in oral, visual, and written forms, it is an indelible part of the story of evolution of human civilization. As a scholarly field, however, world literature has had a rather sporadic presence in the disciplinary landscape of modern universities, surging and receding in accordance with political and sociocultural transformations. The contemporary era is witnessing one such resurgence. The term world appears to have made a spectacular reentry as a literary critical rubric in the twenty-first century. One hears of the “world” all too frequently in academic circles, and in ways that mark our current global conjuncture as, perhaps, the most apposite moment for its articulation. One is reminded of Walter Benjamin’s phrase “the now of knowability” when certain historical periods offer just the right temporal traction for an idea to gain rhetorical currency.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Introduction
  • Edited by Debjani Ganguly, University of Virginia
  • Book: The Cambridge History of World Literature
  • Online publication: 17 August 2021
  • Chapter DOI:
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  • Introduction
  • Edited by Debjani Ganguly, University of Virginia
  • Book: The Cambridge History of World Literature
  • Online publication: 17 August 2021
  • Chapter DOI:
Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Edited by Debjani Ganguly, University of Virginia
  • Book: The Cambridge History of World Literature
  • Online publication: 17 August 2021
  • Chapter DOI:
Available formats