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On Writing a Comparative Literary History: Delocalizing Minor Literatures in European Languages in the Age of ‘Big Data’

César Domínguez EMAIL logo , Giovanna Di Rosario and Matteo Ciastellardi
From the journal arcadia

Abstract

“Minor literature” is an elusive concept in literary scholarship. Its widespread use stands in sharp contrast to the paucity of its theoretical development, which is limited to Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s 1975 seminal book Kafka. Pour une littérature mineure. We claim that a comparative history of minor literatures in European languages – a nonexistent project so far – requires three preliminary steps, namely, conceptual clarification, cross-pollination between comparative literary history and the digital humanities, and a bibliometric analysis of the minor-literature constellation. First, conceptual clarification is needed to show, on the one hand, how Deleuze and Guattari’s arguments on minor literatures significantly differ from those of what they posit as their source (Kafka’s discussion on kleine Literaturen) and, on the other hand, the existence of alternative genealogies. Second, by adhering to a Braudelian definition of comparative history, the massive data needed for addressing the production and reception of (minor) literatures in specific social and cultural contexts would immensely benefit from recourse to digital tools. Third, and as an example of approaching conceptual clarification with digital tools, a quantitative study of the minor-literature constellation must be performed using a key tool of international scholarship (the MLA International Bibliography). In the current paper, we may only provide an introductory survey of these three fields and, therefore, the results are tentative and further research is needed.

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Published Online: 2018-11-06
Published in Print: 2018-10-29

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