Iberian Comparative Literatures

Comparative Literature has fleshed out traditional literary studies with theoretical contributions, in order to pose new methodological approaches. It is difficult to conceive of the literary phenomenon in isolation, and the literary traditions of the Iberian Peninsula cannot be fully comprehended separately. Despite the paradigm shift that led to the incorporation of Comparative Literature into literary studies, particularly as a problematization of the national histories of literatures; with regard to Iberian literatures in the academic context, a comparative aspect has only been developed in certain cases. This omission is not solely due to the lack of tradition, but in addition to institutional qualms, it partakes in the conception of ideas such as the Spanish State, Iberian Peninsula or Europe from a standpoint of diversity rather than from certain positions of power which, incidentally, are not unconnected with/far-removed from the development of literatures in the different peninsular languages.

The interpenetration of Iberian literatures dates back to medieval culture, however, the process has become more pronounced since the second half of the nineteenth century following the loss of the American colonies, when peninsular intellectual fields began to be articulated through the invention of their own literary tradition, serving different political and cultural projects. Paradoxically, it is this extraordinary moment of exchanges between writers and literatures that would culminate in avant-garde internationalism. Moreover, this was a period of intense cross-referencing between writers and various languages; with numerous cases of authors changing languages; concurrently, the notion of Iberianism was being constructed and debated within this intellectual field by the writers themselves. This perspective, within the framework of Comparative Literature, obliges the study of relations between literature, politics, history and other discursive practices. The politics of translation also remains fundamental as a field of study within Comparative Literature. Translation is one of the practices with the greatest power to shape the history of culture. What is translated and what is not, what cultural and political projects do the selections and omissions comply with, what effects do they have on the literary field and within creative projects? These are questions that cannot be ignored. This monograph proposes to analyse these tensions using comparative approaches which, based on a shared cultural history, reflect on the relations between the different literatures of the peninsula. For this purpose, we recognise Comparative Literature not as a field which ignores linguistic borders, but as the study of the relations between different literary systems. Within this framework, and through its implicit interdisciplinary nature, approaches that consider the theoretical contributions of perspectives such as the sociology of literature, polysystemic studies, intellectual history or cultural criticism will be given precedence. Within the context of Iberian cultures, the monograph encourages a conceptual reformulation of Comparative Literature that responds to its institutional, political, historical, cultural, literary and intellectual complexity. We propose a list of research strands including, but not limited to:

a) Bilingual authors: their creative plan and position within the literary field
b) The literary avant-garde and literary internationalism
c) Literary journals: markets, dialogues, polemics, translations, plurilingualism
d) Peninsular intellectual history: debates and dialogues between linguistic communities
e) Iberianism and European consciousness in literary projects
f) Translation politics
g) Cultural settings of borders

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