The imperial gaze: A close-up view of the Za’atri camp in Jordan for Syrian refugees as seen on July 18, 2013, from a helicopter carrying U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Over the last decade, world literature has become a major new field of interdisciplinary research. This website contains information about a series of interrelated projects at the University of Leeds connected to Professor Stuart Taberner’s Leverhulme project: “Traumatic Pasts, Cosmopolitanism, and Nation-Building in Contemporary German and South African Literature.” They explore a range of issues connected to world literatures and complement work being undertaken within the Centre for World Literatures. Taken together, they offer a four-part research programme:

  1. Theory: What are the dominant theoretical models of global memory culture and world literature? In what ways are these models currently being critiqued?
  2. Practice: How do specific case studies from the non-Western world such as South Africa, Algeria and Rwanda ‘write back’ against these theories? What are the practical implications of these theories for contemporary phenomena such as the rise of right-wing nationalisms across Europe and the US?
  3. The Future: What future role will be played by the circulation of traumatic memories in world literatures? How will this circulation be shaped by diverse contemporary factors such as mass migration, refugee crises, global tourism, environmental disaster and digital culture? Can traumatic memories act as a spur to cosmopolitanism in civil society? How does world literature register these phenomena?
  4. Modern Languages: How do current debates on the possible transnationalisation of modern language study relate to the practical and theoretical problems world literatures deal with? How might the rise of world literature as a discipline affect conceptualisations of modern language research culture?