"World Literatures and What It Means to Be Human in the Niche of Nature, Culture, Technology"

The Fletcher Lecture 2012-2013
April 11, 2013
Memorial Union La Paz Room (MU 242) ASU, Tempe campus

The 2012-2013 Ian Fletcher Memorial Lecture features Regenia Gagnier, Professor of English and Senior Fellow of the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society (Egenis) at the University of Exeter, U.K. Her books have shaped the study of Victorian and modern culture with highly influential work on decadence, aesthetics and aestheticism, lifewriting and subjectivity, economics, individualism, and globalization. She has won numerous awards and fellowships for teaching as well as research in North America, Britain, Australasia, and Europe and reads widely for journals and academic presses. In 2006, she was made Honorary Centenary Fellow of the English Association, in 2008 elected to the Royal Society of Arts, in 2011 elected to the International Association of University Professors of English, and in 2012 received by the Queen at Buckingham Palace for heritage and scholarship in literature and theatre.

Gagnier will present "World Literatures and What It Means to Be Human in the Niche of Nature, Culture, Technology." She theorizes that while the globalization of literature is ancient, the study of world literature (like world history) today is contested: world literature as the best; as bearer of universal values; as circulating in translation/remediation; in relation to power and domination (e.g., in relation to postcolonial studies); in relation to globalization; in relation to commodification. The lecture will first describe the state of debate on world literature and then consider its value in addressing what it means to be human in the developmental/environmental niche of nature, culture, and technology. The lecture will also explore the scope and limits of this philosophical anthropology/genomics within the diversity of world literatures, focusing on great geopolitical commodities—bananas, cotton, tea, rice, petroleum, coffee, tobacco, sugar, water, waste, transport—around which literatures and lives are built.

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