World literature is trans-imperial: A medieval and a modern approach

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Resumé

Various concepts guide discussions on global literature, not least ›transnational‹. The present
text advocates, however, for the term trans-imperial, as offering a more correct definition
of world literature, or global literature, both in pre-modern and modern times. Imperial
spheres build up worlds of strong interconnections, and the languages they employ become
privileged languages that may last beyond the time span of a given empire. These imperial
spheres with their one central language therefore form the hardest borders for the dissemination
of texts, now and then. By being trans-imperial, texts therefore constitute the
true global literature. In medieval times trans-imperial texts would comprise especially fable
stories, holy texts, philosophy and science, and mirrors of princes. These were the texts most
often carried from one imperial sphere, or rather imperial language, to another, through
translations. This article, consequently, offers definitions of what constitutes an imperial
language. Central to identifying and safeguarding a language and making it perform as an
imperial language was the establishment of a grammar and/or a set of canonized texts defining
the language, the actual use of it by an empire in running its administration, and the
performance of the empire’s self-images through it. In many cases, secondary imperial languages
– like Greek in the Roman world or Persian in the Caliphate – would hold a lower but
still privileged place in the empire’s life and communication. Many such secondary imperial
languages could then subsequently rise to the status of imperial languages, as several vernacular
languages later did from Latin. The text argues that these features, which are probably
most clear-cut in a pre-modern context, also hold true in a modern context, and that what
we normally refer to as successful national languages (English, French, Spanish, Russian,
etc.) were, from early on, imperial rather than national languages, and that their literature,
in being global, was trans-imperial.

world literature, global literature, empires, nation states, transnational, trans-imperial
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftMedieval Worlds
Vol/bind8
Sider (fra-til)3-21
ISSN2412-3196
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2018

Fingeraftryk

World Literature
Medieval Period
Language
National Language
Premodern
Cut
Latin Language
Philosophy
Communication
Roman World
Nation-state
Holy
Grammar
Modern Times

Bibliografisk note

ISBN-13 Online: 978-3-7001-8441-6

Citer dette

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abstract = "Various concepts guide discussions on global literature, not least ›transnational‹. The presenttext advocates, however, for the term trans-imperial, as offering a more correct definitionof world literature, or global literature, both in pre-modern and modern times. Imperialspheres build up worlds of strong interconnections, and the languages they employ becomeprivileged languages that may last beyond the time span of a given empire. These imperialspheres with their one central language therefore form the hardest borders for the disseminationof texts, now and then. By being trans-imperial, texts therefore constitute thetrue global literature. In medieval times trans-imperial texts would comprise especially fablestories, holy texts, philosophy and science, and mirrors of princes. These were the texts mostoften carried from one imperial sphere, or rather imperial language, to another, throughtranslations. This article, consequently, offers definitions of what constitutes an imperiallanguage. Central to identifying and safeguarding a language and making it perform as animperial language was the establishment of a grammar and/or a set of canonized texts definingthe language, the actual use of it by an empire in running its administration, and theperformance of the empire’s self-images through it. In many cases, secondary imperial languages– like Greek in the Roman world or Persian in the Caliphate – would hold a lower butstill privileged place in the empire’s life and communication. Many such secondary imperiallanguages could then subsequently rise to the status of imperial languages, as several vernacularlanguages later did from Latin. The text argues that these features, which are probablymost clear-cut in a pre-modern context, also hold true in a modern context, and that whatwe normally refer to as successful national languages (English, French, Spanish, Russian,etc.) were, from early on, imperial rather than national languages, and that their literature,in being global, was trans-imperial.world literature, global literature, empires, nation states, transnational, trans-imperial",
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World literature is trans-imperial : A medieval and a modern approach. / Høgel, Christian.

I: Medieval Worlds, Bind 8, 2018, s. 3-21.

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

TY - JOUR

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AU - Høgel, Christian

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N2 - Various concepts guide discussions on global literature, not least ›transnational‹. The presenttext advocates, however, for the term trans-imperial, as offering a more correct definitionof world literature, or global literature, both in pre-modern and modern times. Imperialspheres build up worlds of strong interconnections, and the languages they employ becomeprivileged languages that may last beyond the time span of a given empire. These imperialspheres with their one central language therefore form the hardest borders for the disseminationof texts, now and then. By being trans-imperial, texts therefore constitute thetrue global literature. In medieval times trans-imperial texts would comprise especially fablestories, holy texts, philosophy and science, and mirrors of princes. These were the texts mostoften carried from one imperial sphere, or rather imperial language, to another, throughtranslations. This article, consequently, offers definitions of what constitutes an imperiallanguage. Central to identifying and safeguarding a language and making it perform as animperial language was the establishment of a grammar and/or a set of canonized texts definingthe language, the actual use of it by an empire in running its administration, and theperformance of the empire’s self-images through it. In many cases, secondary imperial languages– like Greek in the Roman world or Persian in the Caliphate – would hold a lower butstill privileged place in the empire’s life and communication. Many such secondary imperiallanguages could then subsequently rise to the status of imperial languages, as several vernacularlanguages later did from Latin. The text argues that these features, which are probablymost clear-cut in a pre-modern context, also hold true in a modern context, and that whatwe normally refer to as successful national languages (English, French, Spanish, Russian,etc.) were, from early on, imperial rather than national languages, and that their literature,in being global, was trans-imperial.world literature, global literature, empires, nation states, transnational, trans-imperial

AB - Various concepts guide discussions on global literature, not least ›transnational‹. The presenttext advocates, however, for the term trans-imperial, as offering a more correct definitionof world literature, or global literature, both in pre-modern and modern times. Imperialspheres build up worlds of strong interconnections, and the languages they employ becomeprivileged languages that may last beyond the time span of a given empire. These imperialspheres with their one central language therefore form the hardest borders for the disseminationof texts, now and then. By being trans-imperial, texts therefore constitute thetrue global literature. In medieval times trans-imperial texts would comprise especially fablestories, holy texts, philosophy and science, and mirrors of princes. These were the texts mostoften carried from one imperial sphere, or rather imperial language, to another, throughtranslations. This article, consequently, offers definitions of what constitutes an imperiallanguage. Central to identifying and safeguarding a language and making it perform as animperial language was the establishment of a grammar and/or a set of canonized texts definingthe language, the actual use of it by an empire in running its administration, and theperformance of the empire’s self-images through it. In many cases, secondary imperial languages– like Greek in the Roman world or Persian in the Caliphate – would hold a lower butstill privileged place in the empire’s life and communication. Many such secondary imperiallanguages could then subsequently rise to the status of imperial languages, as several vernacularlanguages later did from Latin. The text argues that these features, which are probablymost clear-cut in a pre-modern context, also hold true in a modern context, and that whatwe normally refer to as successful national languages (English, French, Spanish, Russian,etc.) were, from early on, imperial rather than national languages, and that their literature,in being global, was trans-imperial.world literature, global literature, empires, nation states, transnational, trans-imperial

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JO - Medieval Worlds

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SN - 2412-3196

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