In Search of Epistemic Justice

A conversation with Stefan Helgesson (Stockholm) and Zhang Longxi (City University of Hong Kong) on world literature and epistemic justice. Professors Helgesson and Zhang will present their two most recent monographs: Decolonisations of Literature (Liverpool University Press, 2022) and World Literature as Discovery: Expanding the World Literary Canon (Routledge, Forthcoming). Their presentations will be followed by a Q&A.

The event will take place via Zoom on April 13, 7 am Pacific Time, 10 am Eastern Time, 4 pm Stockholm time, and 10 pm Hong Kong time.
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 Please find below a blurb of each book.

Decolonisations of Literature: Critical Practice in Africa and Brazil after 1945

This book sets out to understand how the meaning of 'literature' was transformed in the Global South in the post-1945 era. It looks at institutional contexts in South Africa (mainly Johannesburg), Brazil (São Paulo), Senegal (Dakar) and Kenya (Nairobi), and engages with critical writing in English, Portuguese and French. Critics studied in the book include Antonio Candido, Tim Couzens, Isabel Hofmeyr, Es'kia Mphahlele, Léopold Senghor, Taban Lo Liyong and Ngugi wa Thiong'o. By reading these intellectuals of the Global South as producers of theory and practice in their own right, the book attempts to demonstrate the contingency of what is called the worlding of the concept of literature. 'Decolonisation' itself is seen as a contingent, non-linear process that unfolds in a recursive dialogue with the past. In a bid to offer a more grounded approach to world literature, a key objective of this study is therefore to investigate the accumulation of temporalities in institutional histories of critical practice. To reach this objective, it engages the method of conceptual history as developed by Reinhart Koselleck and David Scott, demonstrating how the concept of 'literature' is resemanticised in ways that dialectically both challenge and consolidate literature as a concept and practice in post-colonised societies.

World Literature as Discovery: Expanding the World Literary Canon

Drawing on his knowledge of both Chinese and European literary traditions, Zhang Longxi advances a vision of a non-Eurocentric canon of world literature, one that would build on the self-understandings of the world’s literary cultures rather than imposing Western values and concerns on them. World Literature as Discovery proposes both an expansive discovery of the world’s distinctive traditions and a rediscovery of the aesthetic pleasures that great works offer their readers.

Don't hesitate to write with questions. We look forward to seeing many of you.