The problematic and pragmatic pedagogy of world literature

James Hodapp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In addressing the reemergence of world literature as a discipline, critics such as Emily Apter and Gayatri Spivak gesture to the problem of the scale of world literature in trying to preserve the value of localized knowledge. For them, deploying English as the language of instruction in world literature courses around the globe disincentivizes the learning of multiple languages in favor of a deceptively accessible English that elides idiom, style, and cultural specifi city. Th is article seeks to examine the above critique in conjunction with the triumphalism of the world literature movement that David Damrosch, Franco Moretti, Pascale Casanova, and Wai Chee Dimock articulate. As a case study, the article scrutinizes the large-scale English department curriculum changes at the American University of Beirut (AUB) as an Anglophone institution in a non-Anglophone country devoted to scholarship in the humanities. Th e AUB example exposes the inherent tensions in the desire of global Anglophone institutions to keep abreast of theoretical and pedagogical developments while retaining strong local cultural ties. Ultimately, teaching world literature in the context of AUB allows for the study of a wide breadth of literature while destabilizing and challenging the Eurocentrism of most world literature pedagogy to date.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-88
Number of pages20
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • American university of Beirut
  • David damrosch
  • Emily apter
  • Pedagogy
  • World literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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