Professor Rebecca Gould of the Department of Modern Languages has secured a European Research Council Starting Grant of £1.3m to undertake a five-year project to reinvigorate the discipline of literary studies by looking at non-European approaches and focusing on texts from Islamic cultures.

Literary theory is often regarded as a twentieth century invention. This relegates older discourses on literature to the status of source material, pertaining to literature’s past, rather than springboards for its future.

Moving beyond the parameters of modernity the ‘GlobalLIT’ project will look at the many gaps and limits within literary theory’s current structure when it is applied to literature from lesser-known geographies, in this instance the Caucasus and its Arabic, Persian, Turkic and Georgian texts.

Even when non-European literatures are studied, the theory used to understand them often has a bias to modern European traditions.

‘GlobalLit’ will take a more pluralistic approach to literary knowledge, taking into account the radical variance in timescales for the development of different literary traditions. It will explore the different meanings of literature across varying historical and cultural contexts, reinvigorate the discipline of literary studies, and look at new ways of imagining the status of literature, poetry in particular, in the public sphere.  The project will start next year (2018) and will last until 2023. It will see the appointment of three post-doctoral researchers specialising in Arabic, Persian and Turkic literatures.