Comparative Literature | COMPARATIVE LITERATURE AND THE QUESTIONING OF BORDERS: RETHINKING THE WORLD, UNIVERSALISM, MULTIPLICITY
C501 | 2102 | Prof. Eyal Peretz


M 5:45-8:15

One of the most pressing questions of our time is the need to
rethink the concept of the world and of what it can mean for us
today to live in a world, rather than exclusively within the borders
of a specific nation, language, or religion. A major contribution of
some of the most advanced theoretical developments of the last fifty
years, this course will argue, is to allow us to develop such a
rethinking of the concept of a world, thus, of that which is shared
and communicated across humanity in excess of every delimiting
border. This new thinking of a dimension, the dimension of the
world, communicating in excess of every border, should be
distinguished, we will argue, from several previous models of
thinking: It should be distinguished from the dream of a
cosmopolitanism, of a unification of humanity through the
cancellation of the borders and languages separating it, as well as
from the dream of finding the ultimate ideal of truth, value, and
meaning in which all of humanity can share (enlightenment humanism).
It should also be distinguished from the conception of the world as
consisting of a relativistic plurality of separate and autonomous
cultures, each having its own ideals and values which cannot be
judged by another. If there is a dimension of humanity which
communicates across borders, it will not mean the cancellation of
borders but a new thinking of the logic of the border, a thinking
which will also have to invent a new logic of the universal. If
there is an essential thinking of multiplicity in this new logic, it
will not be the thinking of a relativistic plurality of separate and
complete entities, but of an essential multiplicity of fragmented
and incomplete entities exposed to each other. It is the task of
comparative literature, we will argue, to become the discipline
activating this new thinking of the borders and of the discovery of
a new notion of the world, and it will be the task of this class to
elaborate this new way of thinking by creating a framework through
which to think together several of the essential theoretical
contributions of our time.