Sekai wa bungaku de dekite iru: Teaching Japanese Literature as World Literature

Justyna Weronika Kasza



In his seminal study, Sekai wa bungaku de dekite iru (‘the world is made of literature’), Numano Mitsuyoshi reconsiders the grounds for comparison of diverse literary traditions as well as the position of Japanese literature within the “world literature” scholarship. 

This paper is inspired by the conviction that, as Numano claims, “the world is made of literature” but, at the same time, it aims to disclose a number of challenges and obstacles that might occur when Japanese texts are to be read and taught beyond their linguistic or cultural boundaries. The objective of the project is to reassess the applicability of “world literature” discourse in teaching Japanese literature courses at the university level. The focal points under consideration here are the methodology, the potential reading lists and the assessment criteria.

The rationale behind this distinctive approach that departs from a predominantly historical development of literary tradition and does not emphasise the singularity of the Japanese literature, is founded on the belief expressed by Zhang Longxi that “world literature provides a welcome opportunity to return to the reading of literature on a much larger scale” and on David Damrosch’s perception  of literature as “great conversations among works grouped in an ideal simultaneity”. The paper intends to re-evaluate the pedagogical benefits of world literature as a complementary course to the existing modules within the Japanese Studies and aims to establish its cognitive functions as an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, cross-national and transnational outlook on the canon of the Japanese literature in the globalized world.

Słowa kluczowe

Japanese literature; world literature; Global Age; cross-cultural communication; distant reading

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