SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature

Editorial Board: Ken Seigneurie (General Editor), Susan Andrade, Chris Lupke, B. Venkat Mani, Wen-chin Ouyang, and Dan Selden

Most discussions of World Literature concentrate on what makes literature worldly or cosmopolitan.  World Literature is thus often defined against the non-worldly, sparking a set of useful discussions around whether, and to what extent, worldliness is possible. 

Yet the emphasis on the worldly aspect of World Literature can obscure its literariness.  This Companion will not neglect worldliness but will also remain attuned to the emerging sense of literariness in a World Literature context.  If we define literariness as a mode of reading that engages the reader’s creative agency, clearly some texts evoke this engagement in a given place and time better than others. 

The Companion will pay attention to the culturally and historically specific aspects of literariness while not losing track of the fact that texts, forms, codes and conventions move from one time or place to another around the globe.  In addressing the question of what makes a given text or author an exceptional contribution to World Literature, responses will necessarily range across historical, contextualist and market forces.  

Yet it is hoped that contributors’ essays will also show how a given text manages to engage a reader’s creative agency beyond the parameters set by its conditioning factors.  In this way, World Literature remains open to undecidability and avoids appearing as a symptom of macrocontexts or as an adjunct of globalization.