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Celebrating Recent Work by Leah Whittington and Michael Allan

New Books in the Society of Fellows

dateFebruary 9, 2018 timeFriday, 12:15pm EST location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • Free and open to the public
  • No registration necessary
  • First come, first seated
Covers of Renaissance Suppliants by Leah Whittington and In the Shadow of World Literature by Michael Allan

New Books in the Society of Fellows

Celebrating Recent Work by Leah Whittington and Michael Allan

Renaissance Suppliants: Poetry, Antiquity, Reconciliation
By: Leah Whittington

Renaissance Suppliants: Poetry, Antiquity, Reconciliation examines the role of supplements and continuations in Renaissance literary culture, broadly defined as texts that announce themselves as adding to, carrying forward, or finishing other texts. It focuses on the relationship between literary continuations and other continuative practices in the Renaissance (textual criticism and editing, theories and practices of imitation, sculptural and architectural restoration) and the role of damaged or fragmentary works in spurring new artistic creations.

In the Shadow of World Literature: Sites of Reading in Colonial Egypt
By: Michael Allan

We have grown accustomed to understanding world literature as a collection of national or linguistic traditions bound together in the universality of storytelling. Michael Allan challenges this way of thinking and argues instead that the disciplinary framework of world literature, far from serving as the neutral meeting ground of national literary traditions, levels differences between scripture, poetry, and prose, and fashions textual forms into a particular pedagogical, aesthetic, and ethical practice.

In the Shadow of World Literature examines the shift from Qur'anic schooling to secular education in colonial Egypt and shows how an emergent literary discipline transforms the act of reading itself. The various chapters draw from debates in literary theory and anthropology to consider sites of reception that complicate the secular/religious divide—from the discovery of the Rosetta stone and translations of the Qur'an to debates about Charles Darwin in the modern Arabic novel. Through subtle analysis of competing interpretative frames, Allan reveals the ethical capacities and sensibilities literary reading requires, the conceptions of textuality and critique it institutionalizes, and the forms of subjectivity it authorizes.

A brilliant and original exploration of what it means to be literate in the modern world, this book is a unique meditation on the reading practices that define the contours of world literature.

First published in 2016.

  • Author Leah Whittington John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities, Department of English Harvard University
  • Author Michael Allan Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature University of Oregon
  • Discussant Kathy H. Eden Chavkin Family Professor of English Literature and Professor of Classics, Classical Studies Columbia University
  • Discussant Joseph Slaughter Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature Columbia University
  • Discussant Dan-el Padilla Peralta Assistant Professor of Classics Princeton University
  • Discussant Brian Goldstone Franklin Humanities Institute Duke University
  • Moderator María González Pendás Lecturer in Art History Columbia University