Spivak demonstrates how critics interested in social justice should pay close attention to literary form and offers new interpretations of classics such as Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own. The book offers close readings of texts not only in English, French, and German, but also in Arabic and Bengali.
About the Author
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. She is the author of Myself I Must Remake; In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics; The Post-Colonial Critic: Interviews, Strategies, Dialogues; Outside in the Teaching Machine; and A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present. She is the translator of Jacques Derrida's Of Grammatology and Mahasweta Devi'sImaginary Maps, Breast Stories, Old Women, and Chotti Munda and his Arrow.
Table of Contents
1. Crossing Borders
What People are Saying About This
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's Death of a Discipline does not tell us that Comparative Literature is at an end. On the contrary, it charts a demanding and urgent future for the field, laying out the importance of the encounter with area studies and offering a radically ethical framework for the approach to subaltern writing. Spivak deftly opposes the 'migrant intellectual'approach to the study of alterity. In its place, she insists upon a practice of cultural translation that resists the appropriation by dominant power and engages in the specificity of writing within subaltern sites in the idiomatic and vexed relation to the effacements of cultural erasure and cultural appropriation. She asks those who dwell within the dominant episteme to imagine how we are imagined by those for whom literacy remains the primary demand. And she maps a new way of reading not only the future of literary studies but its past as well. This text is disorienting and reconstellating, dynamic, lucid, and brilliant in its scope and vision. Rarely has 'death'offered such inspiration.
Judith Butler, UC Berkeley
Death of a Discipline is not a lament but a promise. Professor Spivak invites us to imagine an inclusive Comparative Literature freed from its traditional national anchorings, a border-crossing discipline honed by careful reading that encourages linguistic competence and includes the languages of the Southern Hemisphere 'as active cultural media.' This is a visionary work that charts not only the possibility of a reformed discipline that opens itself to learning from many quarters, but also identifies emergent collectivities.
Jean Franco, Columbia University
In this remarkable series of lectures Gayatri Spivak outlines the genealogy of Comparative Literature as a discipline, its successive intellectual affiliations, and the potentialities that an association with area and cultural studies opens. Through a complex and rigorous exploration of the various places of enunciation from which a comparatist perspective can be built up, she traces the contours of a fascinating intellectual project grounded in a 'planetary' vision as opposed to 'globalization.' It is essential reading.
Ernesto Laclau, professor of comparative literature, SUNY Buffalo