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Corpse Narratives and the Teleology of World Literary History

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The present essay proposes an orientation towards the corpse as a viable telos for the present-day revival of World Literature as critical paradigm. The argument has three parts. First, it characterizes two central tenets of the existing paradigm: a profession of dynamism for its own sake and an implicit lack of finality. Drawing on Kristeva and on examples from contemporary Latin American fiction, especially Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, the article then introduces corpse narratives that embrace the abject and reorient critical practice towards materiality. Finally, the conclusions propose a modest agenda for a different “worldliteraturism” that valorizes abject materiality over high-minded idealism.

Affiliations: 1: Stanford University


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