HomeFormalism/Idealism: Comparative Literary History (1860-1960)

HomeFormalism/Idealism: Comparative Literary History (1860-1960)

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Published on Tuesday, March 31, 2015


The colloquium at the Paris Center will make a case that the practice and theory of comparative literature in the 21st century must be accompanied by ongoing reflection on the history of the discipline.  In particular, the participants will ponder the following questions: how did Formalism (attention to artistic form, either atomized or holistic) coexist with Idealism (defined provisionally as resistance to positivism, empiricism, and even to “rationalism”) in different varieties of comparative literary history, as instantiated by these and other scholars? What kind of insight might a reconfiguration of the field that examines (rather than merely instantiating) the tension of Formalism/Idealism provide into the history of literary scholarship which customarily is divided into separate schools (literary evolutionism, Russian Formalism, Czech and French structuralism, New Criticism)? In what ways may the dilemmas of the age of the “splendeurs et misères” of comparative literature reflect on the discipline’s recent agendas?


 Convened by Boris Maslov (Comparative Literature) and Haun Saussy (Comparative Literature, East Asian, Social Thought)



Session I: Paradigms of Comparison

  • 11:40-12:20 Michael Silk (King’s College, London), “Art, Life, and Comparison: Nietzsche and Matthew Arnold”
  • 12:20-1:00 Boris Maslov (Comparative Literature, University of Chicago) “Comparative Literature and Universal History”

1:00-1:40 Lunch

Session II: Reflecting on Literary Form in the Late 19th Century Paris

  • 1:40-2:20 Haun Saussy (Comparative Literature, University of Chicago), " La conversion de Brunetière. Du fait divers à l'exemple."
  • 2:20-3:00 Paolo Tortonese (Université Sorbonne nouvelle – Paris 3), "Zola, experimentation and verisimilitude"

3:00-4:40 Break

Session III: Literary Hermeneutics in German Idealism

  • 4:40-5:20 Carlos Spoerhase (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin), "Escaping the hermeneutic circle: Dilthey's 'idealer Gehalt' and his idea of the literary draft"
  • 5:20-6:00 Jula Wildberger (American University of Paris), " ‘To understand each phenomenon as it intended itself’: Hermann Fraenkel as a Historian of Mentalities” 


Session IV: Theorizing Literary Kinds

  • 11:40-12:20 Serge Zenkine (Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow), “Mimetic Classes, Dynamic Evolution, and the Theory of Genre”
  • 12:20-1:00 Céline Trautmann-Waller (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3), “André Jolles: from antique aesthetics to literary comparison, or morphology as a special kind of formalism”

1:00-1:40 Lunch

Session V: What Was to Be Done with the Novel in the mid-20th Century

  • 1:40-2:20 Olga Solovieva (Social Thought, University of Chicago), “Form and Formlessness in Thomas Mann’s ‘Goethe and Tolstoy’.”
  • 2:20-3:00 Sandra Janssen (University of Geneva), “Idealism as Formalism? How Extremes Meet in Hermann Broch’s The Death of Virgil”

3:00-4:20 Break

Session VI: The Rise of Literary Theory in Eastern Europe

  • 4:20-5:00 Joe Feinberg (Philosophy Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague), "Structure as Process: Bedřich Václavek's Theory of Folklorization"
  • 5:00-5:40 Alexander Dmitriev (National Research University, Higher School of Economics, Moscow), “Literary History as\or Literary Evolution: René Wellek in Prague”
  • 6:40-6:20 Jessica Merrill (Stanford University), “From the Language of Poetry to Poetic Language: The Emergence of a Concept in Early Russian Formalism” 


  • Salle Bernbaum, Université de Chicago Centre à Paris - 6 rue Thomas Mann
    Paris, France (75013)


  • Tuesday, April 07, 2015
  • Wednesday, April 08, 2015


  • Idealism, Formalism, Comparative Literary History

Information source

  • Arnaud Coulombel
    courriel : acoulomb [at] uchicago [dot] edu


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Formalism/Idealism: Comparative Literary History (1860-1960) », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, March 31, 2015, https://calenda.org/323902

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