Diffraction and World Literature

Diffracted Waves and World Literature

Parallax has just released a new special issue devoted to “Diffracted Worlds – Diffractive Readings: Onto-Epistemologies and the Critical Humanities,” edited by Birgit Mara Kaiser and Kathrin Thiele. The special has essays from Karen Barad, Kiene Brillenburg Wurth, and Johnny Golding, amongst others. I’m very honoured to be in such company with a piece on “Diffracted Waves and World Literature,” my attempt to rethink Franco Moretti’s use of the wave metaphor for world literature through the concept of diffraction and to develop an alternative, iterative model for thinking about place and media in the context of globalization and digitalization. I develop this model through a consideration of Yang Lian’s collaboration with John Cayley on the transformation of his poem Dahai tingzhi zhi chu 大海停止之处 / Where the Sea Stands Still into a digital HyperCard and performance piece and, subsequently, a hypertext poem on the World Wide Web. You can view a short clip from Yang and Cayley’s 1997 performance of the piece at the ICA gallery in London here.

About Jacob Edmond

Jacob Edmond is associate professor in English at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He is the author of Make It the Same: Poetry in the Age of Global Media (Columbia University Press, 2019), A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature (Fordham University Press, 2012), and of numerous essays, which have appeared in journals such as Comparative Literature, Contemporary Literature, Poetics Today, Slavic Review, and The China Quarterly.
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