Seminar Organizers: Na'ama Rokem (Yale University) and Nirvana Tanoukhi (Stanford University)

Prose has come to present itself as a neutral category, as the form that writing naturally takes on in the absence of the intervention that creates bound language, meter and rhyme. As such a default mode of expression, prose seems to exist everywhere and always. But, as scholars of the European middle ages, for example, have shown, prose is a mode of expression that emerges as the result of concentrated effort or of cultural and linguistic translation and transformation. In fact, as our perspective widens beyond the modern west, we realize that more often than not prose is the object of intense cultural scrutiny. This panel refunctionalizes a term put into currency in Hegel’s Aesthetics - “prose of the world” as an invitation for a comparative discussion of literary form and its cultural and ideological underpinnings. One of our points of departure is the term itself: how do different languages call this thing? Under what conditions do historical and geographical “cultures” associate prose with the “prosaic”? At the most basic level, what are the different linguistic contexts in which prose is interpreted. For example, what are the different translations for “prose” and what is its opposite?
Our utilization of the concept prose and Hegel’s powerful conjunction of “world” and “prose” serves as a fresh entry into the question of world literature, and the implied relationship between prose and modernity in “postcolonial” or “peripheral” literature. “Prose of the world” is, therefore, meant to indicate the multiple and interrelated conceptions of prose in different languages and cultures.

Please submit abstracts at the ACLA website ( by November 15th. 
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