Spring 2019

Cultural Appropriation and World Literature

, 4 pts, GU4741


What does it mean to treat culture, literature, and identity as forms of property? This course will look at the current debates around cultural appropriation in relation to the expanding field of world literature. In many ways, the two discourses seem at odds: the ethno-proprietary claims that underpin most arguments against cultural appropriation seem to conflict with the more cosmopolitan pretenses of world literature. Nonetheless, both discourses rely on some basic premises that treat culture and cultural productions as forms of property and expressions of identity (itself often treated as a form of property). “Appropriation” is a particularly rich lens for looking at processes and conceptions of worlding and globalization, because some version of the idea is central to historical theories of labor, economic production, land claims, colonialism, authorship, literary translation, and language acquisition. This is not a course in “world literature” as such; we will examine a half dozen case studies of literary/cultural texts that have been chosen for the ways in which they open up different aspects of the problematics of reducing culture to an econometric logic of property relations in the world today.

Section Number
Call Number
Day, Time & Location
T 6:10PM-8:00PM 401 Hamilton Hall
Joseph R Slaughter