Humanism and Comparative Literature

Chiara Lombardi

Abstract


The essay focuses on the notion of ‘contemporary humanism’, with particular attention to the cultural and methodological role of Comparative Literature in defining and studying the concept.

Humanism is a central notion in the development of the European and the Western idea of literature, for textual reception and exegesis. Nowadays, however, the concept has taken on many different meanings, and many of them stem from the crisis of the traditional humanism and from anti-humanistic philosophical positions. With Edward Said, therefore, we may speak of an ‘anti-humanistic humanism’, i.e a self-critical humanism. Starting from the analysis of the theoretical debate, the essay will take into consideration the languages and the forms (such as intertextuality) in which contemporary literature expresses self-critical positions. At the same time, the importance of considering new perspectives between the present and the past, and between those that have been considered central or peripheral cultures, contributes to rethinking the notion of “classics”.

As I will try to demonstrate, from this point of view Comparative Literature plays a fundamental role among the Humanities (a role we hope will be of cooperation and cross-disciplinarity), and in the field of teaching and research, publishing, cultural assets and artistic heritage, by contributing to build a critical, autonomous and long-lasting culture, and to enhance the critical faculty, civic duty and freedom of thought in contemporary democracies.


Keywords


Contemporary Humanism; Comparative Literature; World Literature; Classics; Humanities

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/1050

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-17322

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