An Ecology of World Literature Epub ð An Ecology


An Ecology of World Literature [PDF / EPUB] An Ecology of World Literature What constitutes a nation’s literature How do literatures of different countries interact with one another In this groundbreaking study Alexander Beecroft develops a new way of thinking about world What constitutes of World MOBI · a nation’s literature How do literatures of different countries interact with one another In this groundbreaking study Alexander Beecroft develops a new way of thinking about world literature Drawing on a series of examples and case studies the book ranges from ancient epic An Ecology MOBI :ß to the contemporary fiction of Roberto Bolaño and Amitav Ghosh Moving across literary ecologies of varying sizes from small societies to the planet as a whole the environments in which literary texts are produced and circulated An Ecology of World Literature places in dialogue scholarly perspectives Ecology of World MOBI ï on ancient and modern western and non western texts navigating literary study into new and uncharted territory From the Trade Paperback edition.

  • Hardcover
  • 320 pages
  • An Ecology of World Literature
  • Alexander Beecroft
  • 23 March 2015
  • 9781781685723

10 thoughts on “An Ecology of World Literature

  1. says:

    A vast ranging and educational study of 'literatures' using an overriding ecological metaphor that works surprisingly well Warning The following review is rather long and rambling a possibly failed attempt to synthesise what I found especially compelling and what I took away from the book I used strategic bolding to try to call attention to the most important bitsBeecroft understands literatures as 'techniues or practices of reading texts and specifically of linking texts together' loc 351 rather than as inhering in formal or evaluative characteristics of literary texts themselves so he draws not only on texts themselves but on the critical and historical texts that contributed to canon construction from as early as ancient Chinese and GreekAfter a thorough conceptual and methodological introduction Beecroft dedicates one chapter each to his 6 literary ecologies epichoric panchoric cosmopolitan vernacular national and global The real pay off for me came with chapter 6 Global Literature but this does not mean that the preceding chapters were all in vain The previous in depth description of pre existing and current literary ecologies prepared me to better grasp what Beecroft hypothesises for the future which might not have made sense without the 'ecological thinking' he first sketched out in the introduction and then developedexemplified in the first five chapters His range of literary references throughout is impressive and this is a well researched and well referenced piece of scholarship As someone fairly new to academic texts about comparative literature I found this book relatively easy to follow in its structure and argument even if 90% of the references were unknown to me This was greatly aided by the very thorough definition of terms language language s literature a literature literarization vs literization etc in the introduction Despite his highly academic tone sometimes with awkward phrasing that I had to read several times to unravel Beecroft touches upon several issues that are I think also of interest for a regular person with an interest in how literature works particularly how it circulates in the world The way academic divisions themselves shape how the subject matter is perceived for example the discipline of Classics establishing Greek and Latin literature as something of the past which in turn has meant the relative neglect and lack of visibility of Neo Latin literature written after circa 1300 in Latin instead of a vernacular European language such as French English or Italian How national languages came to be viewed as worthy alternatives to the older cosmopolitan ones through historical process rather than emerging fully formed and pure from some honourable origin text–which I think can usefully counter the rank essentialism of people who oppose any transformation of these same languages as they currently exist Fascinating data on the asymmetry of contemporary translation with than half of all translations being from English into another language His commentary on how this maps and doesn't really map onto the most spoken language worldwide with an emphasis on European languages which is reflected in the ostensibly universal Nobel laureates was really illuminatingIndeed one useful way of thinking about the Nobel Prize might be to imagine it not so much as a device for establishing a canon of world literature but rather as a means of establishing a European canon to which occasional non European works can be admitted with the specific task of augmenting the role of the European periphery within the European literary system loc 5553 5556 The connection between contemporary multi stand narration entrelacement he calls it technically as a way to represent the networked effects of globalisation and the gradual emergence of a global ecology of literature as seen in works like Babel and 2666 A plethora of interesting facts such as the fact that there is such a thing as Buddhist hell the role of Chinese literature in the development of the Japanese tradition or the Cynical origins of the term cosmopolitan in the 4th century BCFinally his emphasis on the way individual human beings such as Dante and Hu Chi in their arguments in favour of a vernacular literature as opposed to the cosmopolitan one have the power to shape these ecologies rather than them being completely impersonal forces Obviously historical political and economic forces have a role to play and much of the book is spent outlining these forces However Beecroft is taking the lessons from the past literary scholars whose canonizing boundary drawing work he's dissected in the previous chapters and intervening in today's literary ecology even as he tries to describe it Beecroft ends his book hypothesising that the future evolution of a global literary ecology could lead either to a global monoculture where texts are 'commodity packaged for export nearly mass produced and indistinguishable from its counterparts produced in other nations' loc 6020 or a vibrant ecology 'where cultural difference is not simply erased in the name of commodification but becomes the premise for broader complex and flexible forms of identity' loc 6253 In a closing which strikes me as both inspiring and realistic he says that the outcome will depend on 'the choices we make as readers and as writers teachers and scholars' loc 6344

  2. says:

    This is a thorough study of world literature working its way through a useful taxonomy of literature at six scales ascending in size The claims to an 'ecology' are gimmick than insight and a lot of the focus is on antiuity with only the last chapter dealing meaningfully with the present day This is a shame because I would be interested to see how the local levels work when it comes to online writing and other alternative means of circulation; it seems to consider that the novel is the only meaningful form of contemporary literature with little interrogation of how its dominance came to be

  3. says:

    Beecroft begins his introduction by contemplating the academic studies of Damrosch Casanova Moretti Pollock and himself concluding that they are all each in fact talking about different instantiations of the same uestion which might most simply be put as What is the interaction of literature with its environment? 3 He considers this uestion by first asking another What is language? Beecroft proposes that a ‘language’ is a dialect with a literature 6 He follows that uestion with What is literature? A common uestion and one that has proven uneasy to answer He says Far from impeding the study of literary ecology uestions concerning what counts as literary and when and how are central concerns to the field 11 He goes on to say that he believes as a student of oral traditional poetics that oral texts should be considered as a type of literature He continues this uestion train with What is a literature? Beecroft understands literatures as techniues or practices of reading texts and specifically of linking texts together 351 rather than as inhering in formal or evaluative characteristics of literary texts themselves That being semi clarified this book is not just about holding your hand as you contemplate what literature is though It's a thoroughly researched study of 'languages' and 'literatures' that is explained by using an overriding ecological metaphor in order to determine the interaction of literature on its environment Beecroft believes that it is impossible to understand any given literature ua literature solely through an analysis of the texts read through it Rather any given literature must be understood as being in an ecological relationship to other phenomena political economic sociocultural religious as well as to the other languages and literatures with which it is in contact 19 After a methodological introduction of his intentions written in a somewhat highly academic tone sometimes phrasing things oddly which then reuired me to re read them in order to understand the point fully I was left learning that rather than limit our study to specific systems within which literature circulates Early Modern Europe say or East Asia or the contemporary Anglosphere we might want to think about how literature circulates what sorts of constraints operate on that circulation and how particular literary communities respond to those constraints If patterns of temperature and precipitation relief the availability of freshwater and the uality of soil are among the most important determinants of ecological biomes the most significant determinants of a literary biome might be The linguistic situation The political world Economics Religion Cultural politics Technologies of distribution Beecroft then dedicates one chapter each to his six literary ecologies 1 Epichoric2 Panchoric3 Cosmopolitan4 Vernacular5 National6 Global All of the first five ecologies lead up to the sixth which he uses to explain his hypotheses for the future of literature which probably wouldn’t have made as much sense to me if it weren’t for the step by step descriptions of the first five ecologies not to mention the well summarized conceptual introduction In addition his massive collection of literary references throughout this book is beyond impressive It is obvious that he researched a ton of material and therefore was able to produce a well thought out piece of academic work My “need to read” reading list grew by about 45 ; What I love about this book is how relatively easy it is to follow with regard to its structure arguments and proofs And although I have yet to read most of the texts he references I was able to follow along and get the gist of them as well as many of the terms in the field of both comparative literature and ecology that were new to me I also loved how many times I’d be reading and I’d have an ah ha moment There were also countless phrases and sentences that deserved highlighting just because For example Isolation is a by product of interaction not the failure of its conditions of possibility 40 It is problematic to project modern notions of empire and imperialism onto regimes of the distant past 106 Beecroft also makes several arguments that piue my interest as a regular person simply interested in how languages ‘begin’ how literature ‘works’ and how it circulates around the world For example he argues The act of compilation creates a whole that is not only greater than the sum of its parts but is in fact a radically distinct entity 65 Panchoric identity can express itself as much in modes of reading those texts as in the texts themselves 69 Key panchoric texts like Homeric epic and the Canon of Songs aim not only to construct a panchoric culture but also to consolidate panchoric readings of the literary tradition as a whole through the use of key devices such as genealogies catalogues and the anthology structure as well as through the consolidation of a shared literary language one which is some measure removed from local particularities 70 Those texts that happened for whatever reason to appeal to the largest number of people and cities were likely to survive to be circulated further in the future while those with limited appeal whether because they were too ‘local’ or for any other reason were less likely to receive such wide circulation 76 It is the use of a language for literary purposes by non native speakers that confirms that language’s cosmopolitan status 91 Only languages that have undergone both laterization and literarization emerge as true vernaculars One of the chief tasks for each ecology as it emerges is to reduce the uantity of information within the system 198 One of the imperatives of any literary system is to reduce information to reduce canons to manageable proportions by identifying entire categories of literature that can be ignored and by establishing criteria for evaluating what remains 239 Statistics on translation make clear that texts in even minor European languages are likely to be translated than texts in major non European languages The lack of translations of non European languages represents the single greatest barrier to the free flow of literature and ideas around the world 296He also enlightens us on The way academic divisions themselves shape how the subject matter is perceived for example the discipline of Classics establishing Greek and Latin literature as something of the past which in turn has meant the relative neglect and lack of visibility of Neo Latin literature written after circa 1300 in Latin instead of a vernacular European language such as French English or Italian How national languages came to be viewed as worthy alternatives to the older cosmopolitan ones through historical process rather than emerging fully formed and pure from some honorable origin text Fascinating data on the asymmetry of contemporary translation with than half of all translations being from English into another language His commentary on how this is reflected in the ostensibly universal Nobel laureates was really illuminating Indeed one useful way of thinking about the Nobel Prize might be to imagine it not so much as a device for establishing a canon of world literature but rather as a means of establishing a European canon to which occasional non European works can be admitted with the specific task of augmenting the role of the European periphery within the European literary system 257 258 How there are two possible paths for the literary ecology of the future a move towards homogenization of some kind and an alternative perhaps less likely path in which greater interconnection is achieved without greater homogeneity 279 The connection between contemporary multi stand narration aka entrelacement or “plot of globalization” as he calls it as a way to represent the networked effects of globalization and the gradual emergence of a global ecology of literature as seen in works like Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 and the film BabelI also appreciate the book’s plethora of interesting facts such as how Tom Parks argues in a series of essays that literature written in other European languages is increasingly written in a style in which the influence of English is readily detectable 279 Or how there is such a thing as Buddhist hell the role of Chinese literature in the development of the Japanese tradition or the Cynical origins of the term cosmopolitan in the 4th century BC And finally I enjoyed reading about how historical political and economic forces have a role to play in how ecologies are shaped much of the book is about this but also about how individual human beings such as the world’s past literary scholars eg Dante Hu Chi etc have the power to shape literary ecologies as well As another commenter succinctly wrote it here on Goodreads “Beecroft is taking the lessons from the past literary scholars whose canonizing boundary drawing work he's dissected in the previous chapters and intervening in today's literary ecology even as he tries to describe it” Beecroft ends his book hypothesizing that the future evolution of literary ecology could lead either to a global monoculture where texts are 'commodity packaged for export nearly mass produced and indistinguishable from its counterparts produced in other nations' and in which a relatively large number of literary languages persist but the literature consumed in each of them is extremely similar in terms of diction style and theme 280; or a vibrant ecology 'where cultural difference is not simply erased in the name of commodification but becomes the premise for broader complex and flexible forms of identity' Regardless he warns that if we move perhaps to a new literary ecology one that encompasses the planet the kind of global literature envisioned by Parks and Owen we would gain a global literature but at the cost perhaps of a critical loss of diversity; in ecological terms such a monocultural dependency on a certain strain of literature could pose genuine dangers for the continued vitality of literature as a medium of creative expression no matter the massive scale on which such a literature would operate 282 He thus offers a number of intriguing strategies to work towards the heterogeneous version of a global literary ecology 296 translation of course being critical In closing he asks two final profound uestions Will the texts that we read speak to us as citizens of the world or as residents of a specific place? In translation or indigenously in our language? His response strikes me as both inspiring and realistic he says that the outcome will depend on 'the choices we make as readers and as writers teachers and scholars' 299 Wow

  4. says:

    Beecroft begins his introduction by contemplating the academic studies of Damrosch Casanova Moretti Pollock and himself concluding that they are all each in fact talking about different instantiations of the same uestion which might most simply be put as What is the interaction of literature with its environment? 3 He considers this uestion by first asking another What is language? Beecroft proposes that a ‘language’ is a dialect with a literature 6 He follows that uestion with What is literature? A common uestion and one that has proven uneasy to answer He says Far from impeding the study of literary ecology uestions concerning what counts as literary and when and how are central concerns to the field 11 He goes on to say that he believes as a student of oral traditional poetics that oral texts should be considered as a type of literature He continues this uestion train with What is a literature? Beecroft understands literatures as techniues or practices of reading texts and specifically of linking texts together 351 rather than as inhering in formal or evaluative characteristics of literary texts themselves That being semi clarified this book is not just about holding your hand as you contemplate what literature is though It's a thoroughly researched study of 'languages' and 'literatures' that is explained by using an overriding ecological metaphor in order to determine the interaction of literature on its environment Beecroft believes that it is impossible to understand any given literature ua literature solely through an analysis of the texts read through it Rather any given literature must be understood as being in an ecological relationship to other phenomena political economic sociocultural religious as well as to the other languages and literatures with which it is in contact 19 After a methodological introduction of his intentions written in a somewhat highly academic tone sometimes phrasing things oddly which then reuired me to re read them in order to understand the point fully I was left learning that rather than limit our study to specific systems within which literature circulates Early Modern Europe say or East Asia or the contemporary Anglosphere we might want to think about how literature circulates what sorts of constraints operate on that circulation and how particular literary communities respond to those constraints If patterns of temperature and precipitation relief the availability of freshwater and the uality of soil are among the most important determinants of ecological biomes the most significant determinants of a literary biome might be The linguistic situation The political world Economics Religion Cultural politics Technologies of distribution Beecroft then dedicates one chapter each to his six literary ecologies 1 Epichoric2 Panchoric3 Cosmopolitan4 Vernacular5 National6 Global All of the first five ecologies lead up to the sixth which he uses to explain his hypotheses for the future of literature which probably wouldn’t have made as much sense to me if it weren’t for the step by step descriptions of the first five ecologies not to mention the well summarized conceptual introduction In addition his massive collection of literary references throughout this book is beyond impressive It is obvious that he researched a ton of material and therefore was able to produce a well thought out piece of academic work My “need to read” reading list grew by about 45 ; What I love about this book is how relatively easy it is to follow with regard to its structure arguments and proofs And although I have yet to read most of the texts he references I was able to follow along and get the gist of them as well as many of the terms in the field of both comparative literature and ecology that were new to me I also loved how many times I’d be reading and I’d have an ah ha moment There were also countless phrases and sentences that deserved highlighting just because For example Isolation is a by product of interaction not the failure of its conditions of possibility 40 It is problematic to project modern notions of empire and imperialism onto regimes of the distant past 106 Beecroft also makes several arguments that piue my interest as a regular person simply interested in how languages ‘begin’ how literature ‘works’ and how it circulates around the world For example he argues The act of compilation creates a whole that is not only greater than the sum of its parts but is in fact a radically distinct entity 65 Panchoric identity can express itself as much in modes of reading those texts as in the texts themselves 69 Key panchoric texts like Homeric epic and the Canon of Songs aim not only to construct a panchoric culture but also to consolidate panchoric readings of the literary tradition as a whole through the use of key devices such as genealogies catalogues and the anthology structure as well as through the consolidation of a shared literary language one which is some measure removed from local particularities 70 Those texts that happened for whatever reason to appeal to the largest number of people and cities were likely to survive to be circulated further in the future while those with limited appeal whether because they were too ‘local’ or for any other reason were less likely to receive such wide circulation 76 It is the use of a language for literary purposes by non native speakers that confirms that language’s cosmopolitan status 91 Only languages that have undergone both laterization and literarization emerge as true vernaculars One of the chief tasks for each ecology as it emerges is to reduce the uantity of information within the system 198 One of the imperatives of any literary system is to reduce information to reduce canons to manageable proportions by identifying entire categories of literature that can be ignored and by establishing criteria for evaluating what remains 239 Statistics on translation make clear that texts in even minor European languages are likely to be translated than texts in major non European languages The lack of translations our of non European languages represents the single greatest barrier to the free flow of literature and ideas around the world 296He also enlightens us on The way academic divisions themselves shape how the subject matter is perceived for example the discipline of Classics establishing Greek and Latin literature as something of the past which in turn has meant the relative neglect and lack of visibility of Neo Latin literature written after circa 1300 in Latin instead of a vernacular European language such as French English or Italian How national languages came to be viewed as worthy alternatives to the older cosmopolitan ones through historical process rather than emerging fully formed and pure from some honorable origin text Fascinating data on the asymmetry of contemporary translation with than half of all translations being from English into another language His commentary on how this is reflected in the ostensibly universal Nobel laureates was really illuminating Indeed one useful way of thinking about the Nobel Prize might be to imagine it not so much as a device for establishing a canon of world literature but rather as a means of establishing a European canon to which occasional non European works can be admitted with the specific task of augmenting the role of the European periphery within the European literary system 257 258 How there are two possible paths for the literary ecology of the future a move towards homogenization of some kind and an alternative perhaps less likely path in which greater interconnection is achieved without greater homogeneity 279 The connection between contemporary multi stand narration aka entrelacement or “plot of globalization” as he calls it as a way to represent the networked effects of globalization and the gradual emergence of a global ecology of literature as seen in works like Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 and the film BabelI also appreciate the book’s plethora of interesting facts such as how Tom Parks argues in a series of essays that literature written in other European languages is increasingly written in a style in which the influence of English is readily detectable 279 Or how there is such a thing as Buddhist hell the role of Chinese literature in the development of the Japanese tradition or the Cynical origins of the term cosmopolitan in the 4th century BC And finally I enjoyed reading about how historical political and economic forces have a role to play in how ecologies are shaped much of the book is about this but also about how individual human beings such as the world’s past literary scholars eg Dante Hu Chi etc have the power to shape literary ecologies as well As another commenter succinctly wrote it here on Goodreads “Beecroft is taking the lessons from the past literary scholars whose canonizing boundary drawing work he's dissected in the previous chapters and intervening in today's literary ecology even as he tries to describe it” Beecroft ends his book hypothesizing that the future evolution of literary ecology could lead either to a global monoculture where texts are 'commodity packaged for export nearly mass produced and indistinguishable from its counterparts produced in other nations' and in which a relatively large number of literary languages persist but the literature consumed in each of them is extremely similar in terms of diction style and theme 280; or a vibrant ecology 'where cultural difference is not simply erased in the name of commodification but becomes the premise for broader complex and flexible forms of identity' Regardless he warns that if we move perhaps to a new literary ecology one that encompasses the planet the kind of global literature envisioned by Parks and Owen we would gain a global literature but at the cost perhaps of a critical loss of diversity; in ecological terms such a monocultural dependency on a certain strain of literature could pose genuine dangers for the continued vitality of literature as a medium of creative expression no matter the massive scale on which such a literature would operate 282 He thus offers a number of intriguing strategies to work towards the heterogeneous version of a global literary ecology 296 translation of course being critical In closing he asks two final profound uestions Will the texts that we read speak to us as citizens of the world or as residents of a specific place? In translation or indigenously in our language? His response strikes me as both inspiring and realistic he says that the outcome will depend on 'the choices we make as readers and as writers teachers and scholars' 299 Wow

  5. says:

    A really great set of theories on how literatures work across various scales and systems Introduces a great new set of concepts to play around with Doesn't hurt that the last chapter on World Literature discusses some of my faves Bolaño and Ghosh

  6. says:

    A grandly ambitious and highly thought provoking book Beecroft's main idea is to use ecology rather than economics say as an analogy for world literary systems because it allows for greater complexity and a richer sense of different interacting parts His second key idea is to create a typology of 6 ecologies epichoric panchoric cosmopolitan vernacular national and global spanning from the very small scale and local to the global Interestingly and this is where things get a bit tricky these ecologies are really modes of reading or interpretation though they also sometimes seem to be modes of production the distinction gets a bit fuzzy These two ideas are in and of themselves intriguing and worthwhile contributions to the field offering an interesting new framework that may prove useful to people like me who are trying to think new models of world literatureMore detail on my blog for those who are interested

  7. says:

    Kitabı bir tür edebiyat dil coğrafya ilişkisini tarihsel politik bağlama oturtma girişimi olarak okumak mümkün Bu bağlamda ders notu niteliğinde bir özetini çıkardım kitabın ektedir

  8. says:

    It is a fantastic book ideal for those trying to decide whether to study literature in one or languages Also useful for professors of world literature The author coins his own terminology to create a clear panorama of the world literature He also spreads his wings so to speak various centuries embracing and commenting on Classic Chinese literature passing to Dante's Commedia up to Ghosh's trilogy

  9. says:

    Enjoy the book very much Plan to read it again soon More comments later maybe

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