The “Slovenian” World Literature: Locating World Literature in a National Literary Systemfundamental research project
»Slovenska« svetovna književnost: umeščanje svetovne književnosti v nacionalni literarni sistem
Durationsince May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2013
Financial SourceSlovenian Research Agency
The three-year project will develop a theory of a world literary system and, using a transdisciplinary approach (comparative literature, polysystems theory, literary and cultural history, cultural semiotics, the history of cultural transfers, books, and social networks), will endeavor to prove the following hypotheses using material from Slovenian literature from the 17th c. to the mid-20th c.:
– Since the 18th c., Slovenian literature – seen as a peripheral central European system situated in the economic and political semi-periphery – has been establishing national identity, textual and institutional structure, and repertoire through autopoetic reference to its own cultural memory, strengthening the conventions of aesthetic autonomy, as well as internationally through the awareness of the linguo-cultural alterity of its European contexts and its relations to the world literary system: by adopting and altering European translinguistic matrices, through cultural transfers and interferences with repertoires of classical and modern, national literatures (central and peripheral);
– Cosmopolitan foundations for Slovenian fiction were laid earlier, especially in Baroque learned culture and rhetorical prose;
– World literature – defined as the system of transnational literary interactions, a value concept, and a universal canon – has been establishing and reproducing itself from the 19th c. onwards through particular nationally perceived literary systems (such as the Slovenian one) and their local perspectives and repertoires; its structure has been influenced by unequal relationships between systemic centers and the peripheries;
– The world periphery, including the “small” Slovenian literary system, is structurally mainly receptive. However, its mere position and its syncretic inventions are essential for the existence of the world system and the reproduction of its centers.
The project’s premise is that world literature is always “glocalized.” Every national literature, every region, migration, and multicultural space, has its own version of world literature, even Slovenia. It is referred to as “Slovenian” world literature. The project follows the development of Slovenian notions of world literature and its versions of the world canon. It historically examines the progress of cultural transfer and the intertextual reshaping of the world literary system archives. The final goal is to ascertain how Slovenian literature positioned itself in the world (virtually and, exceptionally, in reality) during the course of its development.
The purpose of the project is to study the typology and development of relationships between the world literary system and the Slovenian literary system, all the while providing answers to the following questions: How and in what kind of material conditions did awareness of foreign cultures, civilizations, and world literature develop in Slovenia? How and why were the world literature repertoires entered into texts, conventions, media, institutions, and practices of the Slovenian literary system? Which models were selected and why? How were they transformed? To what end? How did the actors of the “small” national system perceive the world horizon and their position in it? The research will also include European contexts, global imagination, and the cosmopolitan nature of older Slovenian literature and its cultural institutions, focusing however on the processes implied in the literary system’s attempts to gain aesthetic autonomy. The timeframe encompasses the period of national awakening in the 18th c., with the emergence of intentional production of fiction in Slovenian, through the 19th c., when the concepts of national and world literature started spreading through Europe and Slovenia, up to modernist cosmopolitanism during the interwar period, which saw Slovenian comparative literature studies develop the theoretical and historiographical concept of world literature.