Global theory and terminology for world literature (DITL) (ACLA 2020)
When the founding fathers (and mothers) of the FILLM and the ICLA first met in the 1960's, they encountered some misunderstandings in the use of literary terms by scholars of different nations (the French illuminisme is not the Italian illuminismo : «enlightenment»). It was decided to constitute a global terminological reference lexicon; the standing project of an International Dictionary of Literary Terms (DITL) was adopted by the ICLA in 1966. Its purpose is still «a. to identify [through a terminological watch of sciences of the text], b. to clarify [in seminars, conferences, networks, etc.], c. define [in works of reference] the critical terms actually used in an international context». The general objective is to establish and constantly revise the metalangage of comparative literature.
Following this «transcritical process», the seminar invites comparatists to study literary notions in a global perspective. Among the major contemporary approaches in re-examination globalism, deconstruction, cultural studies, gender, postcolonial studies, and information theory get priority on the DITL agenda; but presentations of any established term in international circulation are acceptable. A term (not a theme, a character, an event unless theorized as a literary category such as «detective» in «detective novel») is defined as a vocable having a specific meaning in the theory and the history of literature and being used in different parts of the world, whether it belongs to the traditional vocabulary of humanities (such as «genre»), or comes from various epistemological horizons: sociology (such as «habitus»), semiotics (such as «sememe»), anthropology (such as «bricoleur»), linguistics (such as «speech act»), psychoanalysis (such as «phallocentrism»), etc.
After the ACLA terminological symposium for the DITL at Harvard in 2009, the project activity slowed down due to the retirement of the general editor and to the restrictions put on the website hosted by the universities (the DITL is in need of a coordinating research center to build a new url). Now is the time to revisit the purpose of the DITL, to update its already rich contents gathered in more than 50 years of international cooperation, and to contribute new articles on critical terms to the advancement of the global dictionary.
Presentations could consist in a reflection on the necessity of a world wide terminological instrument such as the DITL, or a proposal for a renovation of the program, or establishing a new international a new “area committee” (e.g. “Gender studies”, “world literature”, “psychoanalysis”).
Most of all, presentations of proposed articles on specific literary terms are welcome in the seminar; they can be discussed by peers in the seminar.