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Venkat Mani on World Literature and Germany’s Pact with Books

Venue: Pigott Hall,  Room 252, Stanford main campus

Host: German Studies Lecture Series

Speaker: B Venkat Mani is Associate Professor of German, and affiliate faculty of Global Studies, South Asia Studies, DAAD Center for German and European Studies at UW-Madison.

Description: Drawing on his current book project, Borrowing Privileges: World Literature and Germany’s Pact with Books (1800-2010)in this paper Mani underscores that the proliferation of world literature in a society is a function of a nation’s relationship with print culture: its pact with books. Locating world literature at the intersection of libraries, print-cultural studies, and translation histories, Mani argues, opens up new significations for our understanding of world literature as a comparative project. While current scholarship has engaged with the distribution, circulation, and reception of a world literary artifact beyond the point of its national origin, much less attention has been paid to situations where world literature is proactively suppressed, or even manipulated to serve dominant national ideologies. To this end, Mani focuses on the political manipulation and ideological transformation of the Gothean term Weltliteratur in Germany by the cultural outfits of the Nazi party.