ACLA conference panel: Debating (Ultra)Minor/Small and World Literatures in the Age of Cold War

Call for papers:

Panel: Debating (Ultra)Minor/Small and World Literatures in the Age of Cold War


Organizer: Yanli He

Co-Organizer: Iker Arranz


This panel will take place as a part of the American Comparative Literature Association’s 2019 Annual Meeting at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, March 7th-10th, 2019.

This proposal aims to build a platform for regrouping “minor literature”(littérature mineure), “small literature”(kleine Literaturen & petite littérature) and “world literature”(Weltliteratur) contributions in the age of the Cold War (1947-1991) from three perspectives. First, it argues that some characteristics and concepts of “world literature” in the Cold War Age simply do not fit easily into the traditional categorization proposed by Goethe, Marx & Engels, H.M. Posnett or other scholars before Cold War. Second, in updating this terminological inquiry, the proposal is focused on relocating the new literary terms of Deleuze and Guattari’s “minor literature” and Casanova’s “small literature” back into the Cold War context, in order to challenge the French-centered axis and generally Western cultural bias of “minor and small literature”. Third, it is also aimed at reconsidering the necessary and unmistakable borders between and within “minor/small” and “world” literatures, along other extant and emergent configurations such as “socialist/capitalist”, “political/artistic,” “popular/elite” cultural systems, and so on.

The list of tentative topics includes seven sub-topics related to (Ultra)Minor/Small and World Literatures in the Age of Cold War: (1) Soviet, (2) American, (3) Canadian and Latin & South American, (4) West European, (5) African, (6) Asian and (7) Oceanian. The main goal of this proposal is nothing more than the reinterpretation of the literary World under Cold War through the many neglected “literary spaces” between and beyond the counter-relationships of “North/South” and “West/East”. In this endeavor, we focus on (but do not restrict ourselves) to three points of inquiry:

  • How did the two super powers’ cultural systems influence the differences of the “Northern/Southern” and “Western/Eastern” world literatures, e.g. UK vs. Oceania, North vs. South American, European vs. American literatures?
  • Where are the fissures in these dominating dichotomies involving the five continents’ literatures, e.g. East v.s. West Asian, North v.s. South European literatures—as well as the distinctions within the same regional or national literatures, e.g. East v.s. West German, North v.s. South Korean/Vietnam literatures, ultraminor/small literatures in Soviet Union/States?
  • What are the avenues for research on rethinking world literatures through (ultra)minor/small angles, and do these have the capacity to redefine and pair “minor & small literatures” that before, under and after Cold War Age, such that they obtain coherence among Deleuze, Guattari & Casanova’s new terms—or even with Kafka’s new literary continent before World War I?

Papers will be circulated at least one month before the conference in order to generate in-depth discussion of related publication plans during the seminar. For questions, please contact the seminar organizers: Yanli He and Iker Arranz

More details here

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