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Thick Description as a Methodology of Comparative Literature

  • Cross-Cultural Studies
  • 2018, 50(), pp.347-370
  • DOI : 10.21049/ccs.2018.50..347
  • Publisher : Center for Cross Culture Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Literature
  • Received : February 10, 2018
  • Accepted : March 1, 2018
  • Published : March 30, 2018

SEONJOO PARK 1

1인하대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper proposes a new direction for Comparative Literature which has been deeply Eurocentric and even colonial ever since its birth. ‘Comparison’ in Comparative Literature has been in fact the ideological mechanism for containing, classifying, and eventually controlling all differences in the world. Literature has naturally served as a national institution of the West at epistemological and discursive level with hidden adjective “comparative”. To re-conceptualize the discipline and practice of “Comparative Literature”, we need to revolutionize methodology itself based on Wai Chee Dimock’s idea of “Weak Theory”, Foucault’s “disappearance of author”, and Clifford Geertz’s “thick description”. “Thick description” as a methodology of comparative literature re-establishes the discipline as a field of “weak theory”, defusing the centrality of linguistic identity and re-making it as a “long network” of loose and missed connections. “Thick description” poses the publicness of nation-state within “confusion of tongues”, problematizes the legitimacy of modern knowledge, and puts (the western) nationalism in question. With this idea as a starting point, we can re-imagine Comparative Literature anew as a field of ceaseless discourse of longer, weaker, and thicker networks of interpretation and re-interpretation of differences.

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