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Abstract Biljana Doj?inovi?

Is poetry the universal possession of (wo)mankind – the concept of small literature between world and women’s literature

I will begin with the notions of ‘small literature’ literature itself and the concept of ‘influence’ which is connected to it. What is ‘small’ literature in the 19th century, and how is the notion related to language and national identity? How does the concept of Weltliteratur, which started with Goethe’s idea that “poetry is the universal possession of mankind” correspond to ‘small literature’? What are the possible meanings of ‘influence’ in literary exchange, including the problems of reception and ‘emission’ of influence?

I will try to answer to these questions on the basis of a theoretical text by Svetozar Petrovi?, a Yugoslav literary scholar. Petrovi? pointed out the problems of meeting foreign influence with hostility as well as the various strategies of reworking the impact of bigger and colonizing literatures. Serbian and other literatures in the region can provide good examples for many of these issues, and I will briefly refer to the ‘case of Yugoslavia’ in this sense of relation of small toward big literatures. Although the geopolitical concept belongs to the 20th century, it has been derived from the tensions awakened in the 19th century. Many of these issues will actually be seen through the prism of women’s literature, opening questions such as the following one: is women’s literature, which belongs to small literature, double marginalized or can we imagine anything like “women’s world literature“?

AsK, October 2012

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