Museum Practices in World Literature

Museum Practices in World Literature
1 October 2020, 3.00pm - 4.30pm

Part of the Convocation Seminars in World Literature and Translation

Co-convened with LINKS (London Intercollegiate Network for Comparative Studies)

Speaker: Emma Bond (St Andrews)

In re-telling histories of colonialism, war, borders and mobility through objects, authors Daša Drndić, Valeria Luiselli, Maaza Mengiste and Olga Tokarczuk collage together literary, archival and journalistic sources, traces of visual and material culture, song and photography, effectively assembling their books as mobile, living archives on display. Their works start with inventories or lists of contents, and build material archives of their own narration as they simultaneously work to question what these object collections signify, what knowledge they hold, and what purpose their accumulation serves within the construction of each novel. These are narratives that aim to supplement the material notion of the object collection with a new sense of creative fabulation. In so doing, they enact an intimate, imaginative archive, mobile and wayward in its methods, that signals new directions in potential re-tellings of historical moments. Taking object prompts from Trieste, Flights, Lost Children Archive and The Shadow King, my paper will argue that a critical understanding of museum practices such as conservation, collecting, curation and display can lead us towards new methods of both reading and interpreting vernacular, amateur or informal archives contained in contemporary world literature texts. Using a museum studies framework to re-trace their narrative construction allows me to experiment with new reading and critical writing practices that reveal active processes of material and design assemblage in contemporary world literature.

Emma Bond is Reader in Italian and Comparative Literature at the University of St Andrews. She has published widely on transnational and migration literature (Writing Migration through the Body, 2018; Destination Italy: Representing Migration in Contemporary Media and Narrative, 2015), and on Trieste, borders and psychoanalysis (Disrupted Narratives: Illness, Silence and Identity in Svevo, Pressburger and Morandini, 2012; Freud and Italian Culture, 2009). Emma is founding co-Editor of the ‘Transnational Italian Cultures’ book series (Liverpool University Press) and founding section Editor for Comparative Literature for Modern Languages Open.

This free event will be held online, at 15:00 BST. Please note that you will need to register in advance to receive the online event joining link. 

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Cathy Collins
020 7862 8738