Shaden M. Tageldin
- Associate Professor
- University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
As a discipline, comparative literature often ascribes its origins to Europe and the United States, overlooking other histories. Through the prism of Arab-European comparison, this project develops one possible transcontinental theory of the field. It traces the rise of modern comparative literature to a new regime of language—emerging in the shadows of empire and of modern scientific method, specifically empiricism—in which words increasingly were expected to be life-like, to visualize matter and to echo the actually spoken. Languages that once styled themselves larger than life—incomparable—came to share a new, modern sense—relativist and positivist—that language must mirror or echo life. This turn to nature, bonding word to world, redefined Arabic, European, and other literatures as comparable quantities.