This talk presents initial thinking on contemporary German literature as ‘world literature’. The presentation starts out from the recent, renewed interest in literary scholarship on ‘world literature’. The intention is less to dissolve the idea of a ‘national literature’—although the argument is that we need to move definitively from speaking of ‘German literature’ to speaking of ‘German-language’ literature—or in redefining German-language literature as world literatureand more in thinking about what happens when we apply the theoretical concerns of world literature scholarship to particular German-language texts, and specifically to how they circulate globally. The talk considers the usefulness of world literature theories by Damrosch, Casanova and Moretti, before looking in more detail at Pheng Cheah’s recent book, What is a World? On Postcolonial Literature as World Literature (2016). It can be argued that Cheah’s concept of worlding may be more useful for thinking about at least some German-language works, and the presentation concludes by offering some brief thoughts about contemporary Jewish writing in German.


Stuart Taberner is Professor of Contemporary German Literature, Culture and Society at the University of Leeds since 2005, and is a Research Associate in the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch; German and French at the University of the Free State, South Africa. His research deals with contemporary German literature, particularly in relation to transnationalism, cosmopolitanism, representations of the Holocaust, Jewish-German writing, ageing in fiction, and national identity. In 2013, he published Aging and Old-Age Style in Günter Grass, Ruth Klüger, Christa Wolf, and Martin Walser, and he has edited a number of volumes on contemporary German fiction. Recently, he has become interested in German-language and South African writing in relation to nation, trauma, and cosmopolitan memory, and is engaged on a three-year major research project on this topic, funded by the Leverhulme Trust.