Episode #08 Joe Cleary on the World Literary System

How we can blend the study of literary history with literary geography and political economy?

Professor Joe Cleary of Yale University tackles this question by guiding us through the World Literary System, which is a mode of  analysis associated mainly with the literary critics Pascale Casanova and Franco Moretti.

Cleary shows how this approach can avoid the pitfalls of the Western European worldview and its tendency to favour the romance language traditions and to canonize a narrow range of works as great literature.

This wide-ranging and fascinating conversation considers the status of English and French as world languages, the changing roles of Paris, London and New York as global cultural hubs, non-European languages and literary traditions, and the place of minor literatures, such as the Irish, in this overall context.

Joe also addresses the similarities and differences between postcolonial analysis and the World Literary System approach.

Joe Cleary in Belvedere House

Joe Cleary is Professor of English at Yale University. He has published several books on Irish literature and culture, including Outrageous Fortune: Capital and Culture in Modern Ireland, which we published here at Field Day. Joe is co-editor of the Cambridge Companion to Modern Irish Culture and editor of The Cambridge Companion to Irish Modernism. He was a student of Edward Said in Columbia University in New York and his work is strongly influenced by postcolonial criticism.