Publication Details

Simoes da Silva, T. "The Nation or the Globe?: Australian Literature and/in the World." Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature 14 .5 (2014): 1-6.


Although far more nuanced and complex than am I suggesting here, I want to take the central thesis in Philip Mead’s ‘Proust at Caloundra’, a review-essay of Robert Dixon and Brigid Rooney’s Scenes of Reading: Is Australian Literature a World Literature? (2013), as a reminder of the importance of the national, and indeed the local, in the transnational turn in literary studies of the last decade or so. As Mead notes, slightly tongue-in-cheek, ‘[a]ll models of the world literary system … are structured according to complex political and cultural geometries and desires, as much as by national cultural genetics. There is no born-global of world literature.’ Indeed, Mead himself does not make this point but I would suggest that there is a certain irony in the fact that so much of the anxious commentary about the desired end of the nationalist turn in literary studies often emerges from the very world that for so long has dominated forms of knowledge-making and cultural production, and to which the fields of literature and literary studies have been pivotal. Is this fear of loss of control and dominance a manifestation of a desire to transmogrify (evolving) defeat and erasure into victory in perpetuity? The geo-political world is changing faster than it is possible to detect and capture, and with it the material and ideological foundations that have underlined the triumph of Eurocentric models, cultural, political, literary. The trick is to reframe the debate, to obfuscate positional privilege, to reorient viewpoint. As Mead notes at one point, ‘How literature is worlded depends, at least in theory, on where you’re sitting and from what angle you’re looking. It’s perspectival.