Deaths and resurrections of the subject. Comparative Literature studies have for some time now been engaged in a new phase
in which the internationality of the subject matter is no longer at stake. In the global village literatures develop both
transnationally and intranationally as parts of wider cultural patterns. Thus to reflect upon literature is increasingly a
philosophical matter involving battles of Weltanschauungen. The problematic of the subject is a case in point. Subjectivity as embodiment of the individual human existent has come
to be viewed negatively, particularly in the light of feminist and postcolonial theories, which question the universality
of a subject built on objectifying the Other; thus the erstwhile object becomes in turn subject, and the equation is once
again incomplete. We wish to examine a sampler of diverse, indeed scattered instances of a renewed interest in the problematic
of the subject. For example, far from being dead, the Author reappears massively in biographical and autobiographical writings,
and is tracked through genetic studies. The subject writes itself in interstices and margins, in discontinuity, elusiveness
and uncertainty, as process rather than essence; but we hypothesize that this is in many literary and cultural contexts the
very mode of its rehistoricization.
Globalisation is decidedly a treacherous word. To a comparatist especially,it offers the shimmering hope of a state of affairs
in which there is or mightbe understanding, communication, equivalence among contemporaneous civilisationsthe world over,
and human control over the state of the world. But, immediately,a darker reality manifests itself, one which signals uniformisation
and lossof control to economic forces defying not only the will of individuals butthe rule of entire states. These forces
often identified with multinationalcorporations override the social and environmental interests of these states,a situation
which calls for a supranational authority capable of reestablishingor establishing for the first time a world order governed
by just and transparentlaws rather than unregulated economic impulses. In other words, globalisationhas the potential to betray
its avowed purpose which is the development ofan effective world community. I am not trying here to make a political pointputting
blame, for example, on the World Trade organization though personallyI see many reasons to blame it for distorting internationalization.
RatherI should like to use the concrete phenomenon of globalisation as a metaphoror correlate for the manner in which the
universalizing tendency in literarystudies, and generally in the humanities, can go wrong, when unconsciouslyor just carelessly
it imposes certain patterns and suppresses others.