Change and Exchange: Twenty-First Century Anglophone World Literature

We are so often introduced to literature as a part of a national culture or belonging to a particular mode or tradition of writing.  But, then, in the twenty-first century, more and more writing operates beyond established paradigms and circulates ever more freely across all kinds of boundaries. What of the literature that is located in the world, not just in terms of a spatio-geographical entity but more broadly as a community in which ‘world-making’ is issued from multiple sources and sites? What if literature were actually one form that ‘the world’ takes, a place where today’s immense, willing and unwilling flow of people and ideas around the globe can be grasped and understood? 

Scholars have long been interested in twentieth-century literature that tells the national, transnational, colonial, and postcolonial (hi)stories of collaboration, appropriation, and tension between peoples around the globe. But in recent decades it has become possible to see literature as transcending these historical categories, leading to recalibrated formulations of ‘world literature,’ offering us accounts of contemporary life that turn on change and exchange. From this perspective, world literature can be said to traffic in ideas and, by extension, to affect how readers perceive the world.

In David Damrosch’s (2003) view, world literature is at once locally inflected and translocally mobile as it circulates beyond its culture of origin and makes a home in readers across the world. World literature, he insists, is a mode of circulation and a mode of reading. It manoeuvres among a broad readership interested in the exchanges of ideas and, consequently, in changes of established ways of thinking and being in the world. In his radical rethinking of world literature, such literature possesses what Pheng Cheah (2016) calls a normative efficacy, with normative understood as that which ‘ought to be.’ World literature is characterised by its world-making capacity, with world defined as an unmappable temporal and spiritual intercourse, transaction, and exchange aimed at bringing out universal humanity.  Such ‘a being-with’ of people springs from, but is not limited to, the mappable object of the globe. World literature, Cheah claims, not only describes but also intervenes in processes of ‘worlding’ since it opens up possible worlds and allows for the hopeful imaging of future worldwide changes.         









Martyn Bone is associate professor of American literature at the University of Copenhagen. He is the author of Where the New World Is: Literature about the U.S. South at Global Scales (University of Georgia Press, 2018, runner-up for the C. Hugh Holman Award from the Society for Southern Literature) and The Postsouthern Sense of Place in Contemporary Fiction (Louisiana State University Press, 2005). He is also the editor of Perspectives on Barry Hannah (University Press of Mississippi, 2006) and the coeditor of the University Press of Florida mini-series Creating Citizenship in the Nineteenth-Century South (2013); The American South in the Atlantic World (2013), and Creating and Consuming the American South (2015). He is a contributor to The Cambridge History of the Literature of the U.S. South (2021), The Oxford Handbook of the Literature of the U.S. South (2016), and the New Cambridge Companion to William Faulkner (2015). His articles have appeared in American Literature, Journal of American Studies, CR: New Centennial Review, African American Review, and other journals.

Eva Rask Knudsen is associate professor of postcolonial and global anglophone literatures at the University of Copenhagen. She is the author of In Search of the Afropolitan (Rowman & Littlefield 2016, with Ulla Rahbek) and The Circle and the Spiral – A Study of Australian Aboriginal and New Zealand Maori Literature (Rodopi, 2004). She is co-editor of and contributor to Bodies and Voices: The Force-Field of Representation and Discourse in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies (Rodopi, 2008). Her articles have appeared in The European Journal of English Studies, Australian Literary Studies, Comparative Literature and Culture (CLC), Cross/Cultures and other journals, and she has contributed to essay collections published by Routledge, Rodopi, and Queensland University Press.

Ulla Rahbek is associate professor of postcolonial and global anglophone literatures at the University of Copenhagen. She is the author of British Multicultural Literature and Superdiversity (Palgrave 2019), In search of the Afropolitan (Rowman & Littlefield 2016, with Eva Rask Knudsen) and Global Voices (Gyldendal 2016). She is also co-author of Modern Britain: Developments in Contemporary British Society (Samfundslitteratur 2012) and Texts in Time: British Cultural Narratives from Defoe to Blair (Fagbokforlaget 2005) and co-editor of Colonial and Postcolonial Experiences (Novus 2011) and A Short Introduction to History of the United Kingdom (Fagbokforlaget 2006). Her articles have appeared in ARIEL, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, The European Journal of English Studies, Literature and Theology, Collabah, Australian Humanities Review, and other journals.

Inge Birgitte Siegumfeldt is associate professor of contemporary anglophone literature. She is head of The Paul Auster Research Library, the co-author of A Life in Words. Paul Auster in Conversation with I.B. Siegumfeldt (Seven Stories Press, 2017) and co-editor of New Avenues in Paul Auster’s Writing (forthcoming Presses de universitaires de Rennes, 2019). She is also the co-editor of Nordisk judaistik/Scandinavian Jewish Studies Vol. 28/1 (June, 2017). Her articles and book chapters on postmodern theory, deconstructive thought and Jewish hermeneutics have appeared in Routledge publications, SubStance, Deus Loci, Orbis Litterarum, Jewish Quarterly Review and other journals.

Kiron Ward is Visiting Associate Professor of English. He researches encyclopaedism in modern and contemporary fiction, with a particular focus on the works of James Joyce, Leslie Marmon Silko, Roberto Bolaño, and Karen Tei Yamashita. He recently co-edited Don DeLillo: Contemporary Critical Perspectives (with Katherine Da Cunha Lewin, 2018) and a special issue of the James Joyce Quarterly, entitled ‘Encyclopedia Joyce’ (with James Blackwell Phelan, 2019), and is currently writing a monograph on totality in contemporary fiction, and an edited collection that will mark the 100th anniversary of the publication of Joyce’s Ulysses (with E. Paige Miller).

Christina Lupton works on the history and future of novel reading. She is author of three monographs: Knowing Books (2012), Reading and the Making of Time (Johns Hopkins, 2018), and Love and the Novel: Life After Reading (Profile, forthcoming 2021) and co-author of Corona Time: Reading Novels During the Covid-19 Lockdowns in Denmark and England (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2022), which arises out of the Carlberg funded research project Lockdown Reading. She writes regularly for Public Books, the TLS, and The LA Review of Books.

Jon Ward (he/him) is a visiting associate professor in English and is currently working on a project examining queer Black aesthetics and their possibilities. His research more generally is interested in somatic disciplinarity and representations of the body in American literary and visual culture, and articles published recently include examinations of Black Panther and RuPaul’s Drag Race. He is on the executive committee of the British Association for American Studies and is the founder of the Abolitionist Curriculum.

































We welcome potential PhD projects, potential research affiliations, and visits from scholars whose work engages in any way with the worldliness of twenty and twenty-first century anglophone literature.

The forum is also home to the Paul Auster Research Library. 


Name Title Phone E-mail
Bone, Martyn Richard Associate Professor +4535328596 E-mail
Knudsen, Eva Rask Associate Professor +4535328584 E-mail
Lupton, Tina Jane Professor +4593509415 E-mail
Rahbek, Ulla Associate Professor +4535329280 E-mail
Siegumfeldt, Inge Birgitte Associate Professor +4523251644 E-mail