Manifesto

Today, despite the storms and tides, [...] comparative literature continues along its path. Its dissemination throughout the world remains changeable and surprising.

These words, cited from Claudio Guillén’s prologue to the first edition of his classic work, Introduction to comparative literature (in Entre lo uno y lo diverso, 1985-2005) aptly convey some of the tenets of the vision of Between, the newly-launched journal of the Italian Association for the Study of Theory and the Comparative History of Literature.

Most notable is the will to respond to the current atmosphere of crisis – pertaining possibly to this particular field of studies, but even moreso perhaps to culture and the historical period in general – which is affecting literary and humanistic studies broadly, in Italy as well as in other ‘western’ countries.

This response incorporates comparisons: between models and proposals in constant evolution, between local and international perspectives, and between literary tools and those of other fields of knowledge for which literature may prove to be an unanticipated resource. It is precisely that: a comparison between the single and the manifold.

Accordingly, Between aims to provide an up-to-date observatory, a meeting place at which the methods and research that Italian comparative studies stimulate and participate in, can be brought to fruition. In this sense, the journal title alludes to the desired role of the trait d'union, linking Italy to other countries in Europe and beyond: at once those countries in which comparative literature studies have a firmly-rooted tradition and those in which the discipline is more recently established, yet display their dynamic nature and ability to enter into relation with the vibrant aspects of society and culture.

In order to fulfill its objectives, Between strives to be – from the very first issue – a prime setting in which to welcome and commend the proposals and ideas of young researchers, allowing them dynamic interaction with samples, theories and works from more experienced scholars. Indeed, we believe that allowing diverse and complementary resources to converge in such a democractic base, as it were, is a necessary preface to empowering and recognising the voice of Italian comparative studies within the supranational and intercultural discourse.

Serving this objective is the selection of a board made up of five members (relying additionally on the work of copyeditors at the University of Cagliari) as well as a broader academic board, including academics of different ages, areas of competence and origin, able to cover the different areas and varied scope – academic and geographical – in which comparative studies is operating.

The format Between has adopted reflects its above-mentioned objectives: as an online journal, to be directly accessible irrespective of geographical confines and to be constantly enriched, including outside of periodical deadlines. As far as possible, the masthead will develop open-access editions to facilitate, for example, timely discussion about topics and current issues affecting comparative studies. A discipline that does not limit its interests to the literary sphere; this vocation to cross over thresholds – not only amidst the various art forms, but also amongst these and other fields of knowledge and experience – instead inspires hope that in the forums and online discussions of Between, those who are not in the literary field by profession will also be compelled to take part.

Between will be published once a semester, with the first edition each year appearing on 30 May and the second on 30 November. As a complement and bolster to the website activity of www.compalit.net, the spring edition will provide a permanent and fitting home for the conference proceedings of the Italian Association for the Study of Theory and Comparative History of Literature. In addition to giving the proceedings continuity and periodicity, this collaboration will bestow on topics and individual essays the visibility that behoves them and a systematised, lasting storage in an archive in progress.

The autumn issue will also showcase a substantial section of monographs to which academics will be invited to contribute the findings of their particular research. The thematic section of each issue will be assigned now and again to the care of editors external to the editorial and academic boards. Alongside the monographic articles, the following permanent sections will appear:

Bibliographical Update: This section is closely linked to those topics addressed in the monographs of the given issue, from which a bibliographic update from at least the past five years will be derived. Bibliographical Update will be handled by its editors under the supervision of Marina Guglielmi.

Rereading: This section (edited by Clotilde Bertoni) seeks to rediscover and, in instances, to draw to the surface from complete obscurity those contributions from comparative studies that are dedicated to genres or motifs that cut across various cultures, to the state and the sense of the discipline, and to its periodic eclipses and crises.

Conversation Pieces / Interviews: (edited by Massimo Fusillo): In the belief that this perhaps more ‘militant’ aspect falls under the duties of a comparative studies journal, this section, lying midway between orality and writing, comprises interviews with writers, poets, artists, critics, theorists, and academics.

In discussion: the aim of this section (edited by Niccolò Scaffai) is to engage with a recent work of art – be it literary, cinematographic, or from the fine arts – that gives rise to theoretical and comparative reflection. Critics, writers, and artists will be invited to participate in the debate to take place on the chosen works.

Between the Texts / Reviews (edited by Giulio Iacoli): This section aims to decipher the most original and revealing of the ‘signals’ that comparative studies sends out today to Italy and elsewhere. In accordance with the objectives of Between, the reviews will be willingly entrusted to young academics.

Without a doubt, to withstand the storms and tides demands courage and patience. Auspicious are the words of one of the founders of Italian comparative studies, Remo Ceserani, with which he concluded his recent publication Convergenze (2010), notably devoted to the discourse between literature and other disciplines: We prefer “wolves to hedgehogs, and ardent optimists to catastrophists, as a matter of principle”.

 

Editors in Chief