CFP: Unjust Philologies in the "Modern" University, Taipei (31.10.2021)

Tanvi Solanki Discussion

*Unjust Philologies in the "Modern" University*

American Comparative Literature Association Seminar (June 15-18 2022;
Deadline for abstracts: October 31, 2021)

In this seminar, we wish to examine how people of different positionalities
vis a vis the ‘center’ and ‘peripheries’ of modern research universities,
practice comparative literary studies within institutions which, from the
start, were built upon the logic of exclusion and exclusionary tactics.
The “modern university” stands in a long tradition of colonial and
racialized traditions of knowledge-making which purported to be secular and
universalizable. Calls to remove the names of racists, slave owners, and
those who created and benefited from the colonial empire from university
buildings are only the beginning for us to reflect on the unjust
philological practices upon which institutionally sanctioned textual
interpretation, theoretical approaches, rhetoric, and even scholarly
habitus of body - accents, tones, hand gestures - are based.

We call these practices “unjust” as they have, for centuries, excluded a
range of scholars in the process of inculcating objective and disinterested
practices of reading and interpretation in the history of comparative
literary studies whose affects are produced and reproduced as universal.
Even projects of ‘global’ philologies, which seek to bring together
traditions of philology outside Europe and North America fail to critique
how philology’s attention to certain privileged textual particularities has
become, over time, an operation synonymous with the universalizing claims
of the Eurocentric West to produce literary authority. How can we work
against  European disciplinary formations that have made philology a part
of colonial and imperial epistemologies, and thereby the origins of the
university itself?

To work through this question, we must speak and write not only from the
detached perspective of the authoritative European male philologist, but
recognize that it is enormously generative to approach texts and practices
of reading, interpretation, and feeling as practices of situated
knowledge-making, launched from positionalities of those radically
different from the scholars for whom and by whom universities and their
philological practices were created.

We believe it must be our scholarly responsibility, as literary scholars
trained in philological techniques of critical interpretation, to examine
the varieties of unjust knowledge-making which found our discipline(s) and
institutions. It is those who have been positioned at the peripheries of
the ‘scholarly field’  who are best able to witness the injustices wrought
by the history of philology as they are borne out in the modern research
university. How would a philologist with a decolonising theoretical framework
go about reading texts deemed both canonical and non-canonical? And what
constitutes the particular theoretical and conceptual frameworks which
continue the tradition of “unjust philologies,” continually excluding
difference and alterity?

Contact information of the seminar organizers: Tanvi Solanki ( and Mathura Umachandran (

Link to ACLA Seminar page:


Redaktion: Constanze Baum – Lukas Büsse – Mark-Georg Dehrmann – Nils Gelker – Markus Malo – Alexander Nebrig – Johannes Schmidt

Diese Ankündigung wurde von H-GERMANISTIK [Lukas Büsse] betreut –