Since 1800, new modes of transport and communication, commerce and violence, have remade the world. As empires expanded and contracted, and as the relationships between states and individuals were repeatedly reconfigured and tested, ways of conceptualising how literature relates to the world changed, too.
In Worlding English we move beyond the Western canon in order to engage with the newly global dimensions of literature in English. The concept of world literature originates in the nineteenth century, and this module tracks the history of literature in English as a global phenomenon forward from this beginning through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This period witnessed not only the rise of British Empire, industrialization, and the birth of new resource regimes including coal and oil, but also the emergence of the Anthropocene, decolonization, and global war. This module explores theoretical methodologies for worlding English, while scrutinizing English’s ambitions to universality, exposing its internal fissures and gaps, and its indebtedness to non-Western ‘peripheries’. Texts come from diverse contexts but are linked by their self-consciousness about how race, culture, politics, economics, gender, and ecology shape the worldly positions of authors and their work.