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Classical World LiteraturesSino-Japanese and Greco-Roman Comparisons$
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Wiebke Denecke

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199971848

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199971848.001.0001

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Beyond the Comforts of Influence: Deep Comparisons

Beyond the Comforts of Influence: Deep Comparisons

(p.289) Epilogue Beyond the Comforts of Influence: Deep Comparisons
Classical World Literatures

Wiebke Denecke

Oxford University Press

Current debates about “world literature” focus mainly on modern conditions and literatures. Also, with the recent historicizing turn in many fields the study of reception has become the predominant mode of cross-cultural and comparative literary study. But what about the world’s enormous premodern literary heritage before the advent of global modernity and the interaction among previously far-flung literary cultures? Recent multi-volume world literature anthologies give us a sense of the sheer volume of texts that up to the early modern or even modern periods were produced in distinct literary traditions without direct historical connection. It is imperative to advance methodologies for comparison beyond the comforts of influence. This book proposes the methodology of “deep comparison,” moving away from formalist comparisons of literatures to functional comparisons of literary cultures. This approach replaces the detection of “ellipsis” (e.g. epic in East Asia) with the heuristic exploration of “catachresis,” the master trope of deep comparison, which approximates divergent structures of literary cultures to throw them in sharper relief. The book also aims to bring into dialogue various layers of comparison: of artifacts (texts), cultural systems (literary cultures), critical concepts (scholarship and theory), and lastly, academic fields with their specific histories, practices and agendas.

Keywords:   world literature, comparisons between disciplines, transcultural comparison, reception studies, literary cultures, deep comparison, catachresis, ellipsis, Classics, East Asian Studies

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