• Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

    Death of a Discipline (2003
    I.  Premise: Comparative literature is not dead; rather, Spivak calls for a new comparative literature which works closely with Area Studies, aiming to make these two academic fields resemble one another.
    1. ‘Old’ comparative literature: based on the standards set forth by the Bernheimer Report. Focuses on “nations”- mainly Western European. Origins (US school): flight of European intellectuals from totalitarian regimes.
    2. ‘Area studies’: interdisciplinary academic field combining different regional studies departments (i.e. Oriental Studies, Latin American Studies, African Studies, etc...) Focuses on geographical “areas.” Origins: the Cold War.
    II.  Calls for a coalition between comparative literature and area studies:
    1. What comparative literature would gain from area studies: linguistic and political coverage, academic and interdisciplinary resources (specifically outside the West).
    2.    What area studies would gain from comparative literature: conceptual thinking, methods of close textual readings, and reinventing approaches to language of the other as more than just “field” language.
    III. Obstacles to the alliance between comparative literature and area studies:
    1. Comparative literature fears the politicizing of their subject matter.
    2. Area studies fear  the radical impulses in literary studies.
    IV.  Necessity for an alliance between the two fields:
    1. Without area studies, comparative literature will be imprisoned in Euro-American borders which it will not cross.
    2. Without comparative literature, area studies can only transgress frontiers.
    V.  Solutions for an area studies/comparative literature alliance:
    1. Finding a common ground for the two fields in language.
    2. Comparative literature needs to find language outside the conventionally accepted realm of hegemonic languages.
    3. Area studies need to find languages with literary depth.
    VI.  General overview of Spivak’s main argument:
     1. Calling for the depoliticizing of hostile politics towards politics of friendships; does not call for the politicization of comparative literature.
    2. Calling for comparative literature and area studies to work together in order to write the languages that vanished when maps were made.
    3. Calling for comparative literature to always cross borders and demographic frontiers.
    4. Utilizing literature as both a teacher of comparative literature as well as an object of investigation.
    5. Displacing fears of working with area studies in order to see literature through the eyes of the global other.
    Fatima AlQattan