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As a part of its annual series of international symposia and book publications on key themes in Australian literary studies, on 25 - 26 May 2012, Australian Literature at the University of Sydney will host a symposium on the theme, ‘Scenes of Reading: Is Australian Literature a World Literature?’
The paper looks at various meanings of ‘World Literature’ (widely read books; great works of transcultural influence; a disciplinary structure and practice), assessing Australia’s place in each and what might underlie a wish to belong to any.
In particular, it locates the last focus of scholarly discussion in French and US sites and the drive to reform Comparative Literature studies, examining possible factors leading Australian universities to engage with such debates and possible effects on local practice.
The paper notes how Postcolonial literary studies called for this kind of reform of comparative literature and pushed towards a ‘world literature’ under its own rubrics, and asks whether World Literature is not a means of sidestepping the inconvenient engagements of postcolonial work.
It takes Aboriginal writing as a case study of what might happen under a World Literature regime as formulated by the leading voices in the debate.