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The Institute for World Literature

25 June – 20 July 2012

Bilgi University, Istanbul, Turkey


The study of world literature has expanded in recent years into a far-reaching inquiry into the variety of the world’s literary cultures past and present. Courses in world literature are gaining new prominence around the world, and conferences on world literature are attracting large numbers of scholars in many countries engaged with an increasingly global literary world, from China to Turkey to Brazil. These developments open up exciting new possibilities for studying the world’s literatures – including the European literatures themselves – and yet relatively few colleges and universities are presently equipped to train people to teach beyond the purview of a single nation or a regional cluster of countries. In the United States, no more than ten percent of four-year institutions have full-scale Comparative Literature programs, and many of those programs have few faculty trained in literatures beyond Western Europe and North America. In most other national systems, literary studies have usually been focused largely on the home country or region, and perhaps also one or more of the European colonial powers.

The Institute for World Literature has been established to meet this need. Overseen by an international board of advisers and directed by David Damrosch of Harvard University, the Institute meets for four weeks each summer, giving faculty and graduate students the opportunity to come together to explore the theory and practice of teaching and studying world literature. The Institute features a mixture of intensive two-week seminars and guest lectures given by leading theorists and practitioners of world literary study, together with sharing of work among the participants themselves.

The Institute’s inaugural session was held in July 2011 at Peking University, with sixty participants from fourteen countries. This coming summer, the Institute will meet at Bilgi University in Istanbul; faculty and speakers will include Pascale Casanova, Djelal Kadir, Orhan Pamuk, and Bruce Robbins. Tuition for the four weeks will be $1800 (US), with a discount for students from institutions that sign on as institutional sponsors, and with some scholarships available for participants from regions outside Europe and North America. For further information about the Istanbul session, about individual applications and about institutional memberships, visit the Institute’s website: www.iwl.fas.harvard.edu

Applications for the 2012 session are due February 1.

For more information, please contact David Damrosch at ddamrosc@fas.harvard.edu

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