University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

The Global Novel: Comparative Perspectives (co-sponsored by New Literary History)

April 10, 2019

IHGC Symposium on 

The Global Novel: Contemporary Perspectives

Co-sponsored by New Literary History


Convener: Debjani Ganguly


April 10-11, Venue Wilson 142


The looming presence of the novel in world literary studies is unmistakable. More than any other literary genre, the novel is perceived as future-oriented and open-ended, ready to absorb within its polymorphous ambit the indeterminacy of the present, a genre that, in Bakhtin’s words, ‘has a living contact with the unfinished, still evolving contemporary reality.’ It not only travels well, but is also, arguably, the genre par excellence of the mutating lifeworld of global capitalism. Recent world literary approaches to novel studies have ranged from theories of comparative morphology (Moretti); of the mutual shaping of the world novel and human rights discourse (Slaughter); of born-translated works that have an aspiration for cross-lingual circulation embedded in their crafting (Walkowitz); of formal adaptation to the visual stimulation of our new media age, global wars after 1989 and the proliferation of genres of witnessing (Ganguly), and of the novel's planetary scale in works of speculative fiction on climate change (Heise), to name only a few.    


This workshop will bring together scholars with expertise in various literary regions – South Africa, South Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, North America, Southern Europe and East Asia – to examine the transformation of the novel across these cultural zones. It will explore recent theories of the novel and compare their relative provenance across multiple novelistic traditions. Offering close readings of works across various vectors – historical, political, cultural, ethical, technological and planetary – the workshop aims to generate new comparative perspectives on the global novel in the twenty-first century. 


April 10


2.30pm – Welcome and Introduction: Jahan Ramazani, NLH


3.00-4.30pm – Ignacio Sanchez Prado (Washington St Louis)

“Transculturation and the Necropolitical: Theory of the Novel from Latin America.”


4.30-6.00pm – Debjani Ganguly (UVA)

“Catastrophic Form and Planetary Realism: Reading James George and Amitav Ghosh”



April 11


9.30-11.00am – Rebecca Walkowitz (Rutgers)

“On Not Knowing: Lahiri, Tawada, Ishiguro”


11.00-11.30am - Coffee


11.30-1.00pm - Ranjana Khanna (Duke)

“Touch, Water, Death: Affect and Sinan Antoon’s The Corpse Washer


1.00-2.00pm - Lunch


2.00-3.30pm - Daniel Kim (Brown)

“Translations and Ghostings of History: The Novels of Han Kang”


3.30-3.45pm - coffee


3.45-5.15pm –Baidik Bhattacharya (CSDS Delhi)

“Does the Global Novel have a Democratic future? Reading Orham Pamuk and J.M. Coetzee”


5.15-5.30pm – Concluding Remarks


Speakers’ Bios


Ignacio Sanchez Prado is Jarvis Thurston and Mona Van Duyn Professor in Humanities and

Professor of Spanish, Latin American Studies, and Film and Media Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. His research interests include Mexican literary, film and cultural studies, Latin American intellectual history, neoliberal culture, and world literature theory. In addition to his numerous articles and monographs, he has recently published Screening Neoliberalism. Mexican Cinema 1988-2012 (2014), and Strategic Occidentalism: On Mexican Fiction, The Neoliberal Book Market and the Question of World Literature (Northwestern, 2018). He is also the editor of eleven collections, including (as co-editor) A History of Mexican Literature, and a member of the editorial board of various journals, such as Forma, Chasqui, Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana, ASAP/Journal, and Confluencia. Ignacio is co-editor, with Leslie Marsh, of the SUNY Press Series on Latin American Cinema.


Debjani Ganguly is Professor of English and Director of the Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures at the University of Virginia. She has written widely on postcolonial theory, caste and subaltern histories, dalit literature, world literature, the global Anglophone novel, war and humanitarianism, and Indian Ocean worlds. She is the author of This Thing Called the World: The Contemporary Novel as Global Form (Duke 2016) and Caste, Colonialism and Counter-Modernity (Routledge 2005), and General Editor of the Cambridge History of World Literature (2 vols. forthcoming 2020). She is also the General Editor of the CUP book series Cambridge Studies in World Literature. She is currently working on a book project provisionally called Catastrophic Form: Drones, Toxins, Climate. She serves on the advisory boards of the Harvard Institute for World Literature, the International Comparative Literature Association (ICLA), the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI) and the Academy of Global Humanities and Critical Theory (Bologna).


Rebecca L. Walkowitz is Professor and Chair in the English Department and Affiliate Faculty in Comparative Literature at Rutgers University. She works on modernism, twentieth-century British fiction, the contemporary Anglophone novel, translation, world literature, and transnational approaches to literary history. Her current research focuses on the concept of the Anglophone and the representation of world languages in contemporary writing.

She is the author of Cosmopolitan Style: Modernism Beyond the Nation (Columbia, 2006) and Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature (Columbia, 2015), which received Honorable Mention for the first annual Matei Calinescu Prize from the MLA and has been translated or is forthcoming in Danish, Polish, Hungarian, and Japanese. She is also the editor or co-editor of eight books, including, with Eric Hayot, A New Vocabulary for Global Modernism (Columbia, 2016). Walkowitz is also editor, with Matthew Hart and David James of Literature Now, a book series published by Columbia University Press.



Ranjana Khanna is Director of the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute and Professor of English, Women's Studies, and the Literature Program at Duke University. She has published widely on Anglophone and Francophone postcolonial literature, psychoanalysis, and transnational feminist theory, literature, and film. She is the author of Dark Continents: Psychoanalysis and Colonialism (Duke, 2003) and Algeria Cuts: Women and Representation 1830 to the present (Stanford, 2008). Her works have appeared in journals like Differences, Signs, Third Text, Diacritics, Screen, Art History, positions, SAQ, Feminist Theory, and Public Culture. Her current book projects in progress are Asylum: The Concept and The Practice and Technologies of Unbelonging.



Daniel Y. Kim is Associate Professor of English and American Studies at Brown University. He is the author of Writing Manhood in Black and Yellow: Ralph Ellison, Frank Chin, and the Literary Politics of Identity (Stanford, 2006) and the co-editor, with Crystal Parikh, of The Cambridge Companion to Asian American Literature (Cambridge, 2015). He is currently working on a book provisionally titled The Intimacies of Conflict: A Cultural History of the Korean War, forthcoming from NYU Press. Essays based on material from this project have been published in the journals American Literary History, Cross-Currents, positions and Trans-Humanities. His articles have also appeared in the Journal of Asian American Studies, Novel and Criticism.


Baidik Bhattacharya is Associate Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, India. He works at the crossroads of literary studies, social sciences, and philosophy. He is the author of Postcolonial Writing in the Era of World Literature: Texts, Territories, Globalizations (Routledge, 2018), and the co-editor of The Postcolonial Gramsci (Routledge, 2012) and Novel Formations: The Indian Beginning of a European Genre (Permanent Black, 2018). His essays have appeared in Critical Inquiry, New Literary History, Boundary 2, Novel, Interventions, Postcolonial Studies, among other places. He serves on the editorial board of the journal Postcolonial Studies. Currently Bhattacharya is working on two projects. First, an interdisciplinary inquiry into the origins and institutionalization of the modern idea of “literature” since the eighteenth century, and a detailed exploration of the histories of imperialism which shaped the contours of the new idea. The second project is an exploration of a paradigm of imperial politics-developed through the nineteenth-century debates on crime and related disciplines (e.g. criminology, criminal anthropology, eugenics, race-theory, and penology) and deployed as part of colonial governance.




Homer Statue
Wilson Hall 142
2:30 PM