Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Comparative Literature Has Had its Day?

I was reading Susan Bassnett’s Comparative Literature: A Critical Introduction and noticed that her chapter on translation studies is a good basic introduction to the field, though it focuses primarily on recent times and trends. She argues that “[c]omparative literature as a discipline has had its day…We should look upon translation studies as the principal discipline from now on, with comparative literature as a valued but subsidiary subject area.” (161) What do you think about that?

2 comments:

Zoe said...

As someone who graduated less than two years ago with a degree in comparative literature, I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I agree because comparative literature becomes so self-involved in endless theory and analysis that it almost becomes removed from the literature itself. Translation is necessarily closer to the literature.

I don't really think comparative literature should be dropped, but rather it should be thought of less as a study of literature and more as a study of different lens of analysis...

B.J. Epstein said...

Thank you for your comment, Zoe. When I got my BA in literature, I definitely felt that there was way too much emphasis on theory rather than on the lit. It was frustrating at times. And sometimes it seemed that comp. lit. was relegated to a specialized field for language-learners. It would be great if we could combine languages, lit, and translation into one happy subject area.

Best wishes,
BJ