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The concept of world literature in Czech and Slovak comparative literary studies

In: World Literature Studies, vol. 14, no. 2
Miloš Zelenka Číslo ORCID


Year, pages: 2022, 5 - 30
Language: eng
World literature. Systematics of world literature. Comparative literature. National and world literature. Czech and Slovak comparative literary studies. “Small” and “large” world literatures.
Article type: štúdie / articles
Document type: pdf
About article:
This article aims to systemize the trends in world literature research, highlighting the differences between the concepts of this phenomenon as embraced by “small” and “large” literatures. It also takes account of the Czech and Slovak line of thinking which questions the concept of world literature as normative poetics or the standardized canon of masterpieces and their various discourses. The historical experience of Czech and Slovak comparative literary studies defending the independent values of Slavic literatures suggests that there cannot be any arbitrary research on world literature. With some exceptions and regardless of their terminologically and semantically different interpretations of this specialism, contemporary theoretical concepts (as embraced by Emily Apter, Pascale Casanova, David Damrosch, Marko Juvan, Franco Moretti, etc.) re-establish recognizing world literature as an international research issue or a subject employing English as a universal means of communication. Imposing such a notion would allegedly condone inequality as a kind of epistemological framework to codify the binary opposition of “developed” and “underdeveloped” or “the center” and “periphery”. It was mainly the Czecho-Slovak structuralist tradition (represented by Frank Wollman, René Wellek, Dionýz Ďurišin, etc.) that rejected national literature as a natural starting point of world literature. Anchored in the Central European intellectual milieu at the crossing of various aesthetic movements, these “defensive” theories were linked with the structural concept of the Prague Linguistic Circle, letting alone the multilingual tradition of the former Habsburg Empire and the phenomenon of migration which implied the aspect of polyglossia and heterotopia as a breeding ground for comparative scholars.
How to cite:
ISO 690:
Zelenka, M. 2022. The concept of world literature in Czech and Slovak comparative literary studies. In World Literature Studies, vol. 14, no.2, pp. 5-30. 1337-9275. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31577/WLS.2022.14.2.1

Zelenka, M. (2022). The concept of world literature in Czech and Slovak comparative literary studies. World Literature Studies, 14(2), 5-30. 1337-9275. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31577/WLS.2022.14.2.1
About edition:
Publisher: ÚSvL SAV, v. v. i.
Published: 30. 6. 2022