Death of a Discipline

Gayatri Chakrav Spivak


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Columbia University Press
11 July 2023
ISBN: 9780231207232
160 pages

From the publisher

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is among the foremost figures in the study of world literature and its cultural consequences of the past half-century. In this book, originally published in 2003, she declares the death of comparative literature as we know it and sounds an urgent call for a "new comparative literature," in which the discipline is reborn-one that is not appropriated and determined by the market.

Spivak examines how comparative literature and world literature in translation have fared in the era of globalization and considers how to protect the multiplicity of languages and literatures at the university. She demonstrates why critics interested in social justice should pay close attention to literary form and offers insightful interpretations of classics such as Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own. Through readings of texts not only in English, French, and German but also in Arabic and Bengali, Spivak practices what she preaches.

This anniversary edition features a new preface in which Spivak reflects on the fortunes of comparative literature in the intervening years and its tasks today.