The Program in Comparative and World Literature celebrated its 50thanniversary with a two-day symposium titled “CWL @ 50: Comparative and World Literature in Historical Perspective,” held at the Levis Faculty Center on 12-13 September 2017.
Originally founded in 1967, the UIUC Program in Comparative & World Literature in 1985 became one of the first to offer non-Western and cross-cultural studies, and world literature is an area where we continue to excel today. The two-day symposium brought together alumni, students, and faculty from CWL with specializations in Arabic, Bulgarian, Classics, Chinese, English, French, German, Israeli, Italian, Japanese, Russian, South Asian, and Spanish literatures and cultures, as well as expertise in Jewish Studies, Film studies, Cultural studies, Religion, and Post-colonial theory. The conference was generously sponsored by eighteen campus units.
The symposium coincided with the 150thAnniversary of the founding of the University. “We wanted to recognize these important historical milestones and the wide ranging contribution that CWL has made to the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and to the University of Illinois,” said Lilya Kaganovsky, Director and Professor of Comparative and World Literature.
The symposium featured keynote speaker Haun Saussey (University of Chicago), who also conducted a graduate workshop on critical theory and the idea of authorship. A second graduate workshop on professionalization outside the university was led by CWL alumna Beth Benedix (DePauw University). Professor Emeritus Michael Palencia Roth, one of the original founders of the Comparative Literature Program at Illinois, offered welcome remarks. On the second day, CWL faculty and alumni presented current research and debated future directions in the field, including moving beyond the East/West divide to mine intellectual affinities and cross-cultural relations across the globe.