Thoughts on the Passing of Professor Svetlana Boym (1966–2015)

Dear Colleagues,

I read with sadness the brief update Neil forwarded to us about the death yesterday of Svetlana Boym. Without knowing any details of the circumstances of her death, this comes as a big surprise. Professor Boym was an active artist and scholar, and not at all at the age where one expects such news.

Regardless, I would like to share a few words about Professor Boym, her work and her relationship to the Centre for Comparative Literature. Many of you will remember that Professor Boym was the keynote speaker for our Comp Lit colloquium “Explosive Past, Radiant Future,” of which I was an organizer. I remember well her lecture at
that colloquium as well as her stimulating participation in the panels and other events of the weekend. She also shipped much of her most recent work as part of an art and photography exhibit connected to the colloquium. She was very committed to the intersection of art and scholarship as with that of theory and practice.

She was also a delightful presence in any setting, as comfortable in spirited debates over the meaning of Putinism as she was lecturing on Benjamin or leading group singing of folk tunes at the closing reception.

Her published work, and in particular the two books “Common Places” and “The Future of Nostalgia,” has been instrumental in my own intellectual development. I can scarcely think of a scholar who has done more to bring humanities-based approaches (as distinct from those of the social sciences) to bear on questions of “everyday life” of ordinary people.

Anyone who knows Professor Boym’s work will also know of her preoccupation with the relationship of the past to the future, and vice versa.

As most of you will know, a number of her photographs hang on the walls of our Centre as reminders of the time she spent with us and as visual representations of the matters with which her work is concerned. May it long be so.

–Ryan Culpepper



CFP: Transverse 15: Food

The CFP for the next issue of Transverse (journal of the Centre for Comparative Literature, University of Toronto) is available! Check it out at

Deadline: 25 September, 2015

The Complit Students’ Tribune

Call for Contributions
Comparatists: Assert yourselves!

Studies in comparative literature bring together a large community of scholars, breathing life into a discipline whose applicability continues to proliferate. Graduate students’ research projects are rich and varied, reflecting the breadth of the discipline, although lacking diffusion within the larger comparatist community. Last winter, students met to think about a possible collaboration between the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Montreal and the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. Since then, the obvious lack of connections between graduate students from both universities, as well as from other Canadian universities, became a source of motivation for envisioning a space of encounter where we could discuss our projects on the ground of the discipline we share. The “Comparative Literature Students’ Tribune” aims at encouraging discussions between comparatist graduate students of Canadian universities. By asserting the specificity of each of the comparative literature programs in the country, we hope to identify what unites us in this field of study, and forge lasting friendships between young scholars and contribute to the ongoing conversations about the discipline in Canada. For its first edition, in January 2015, the Tribune will take place at the University of Montreal, and will be organized around the question of the spaces for comparative literature.

Occupy Comparative Literature’s Spaces

Thanks to its polyglot and multicultural specificity, Canada is a privileged space for comparatist studies. But our discipline, little known by the public at large and imperfectly identified within academia itself, suffers today from a lack of institutional recognition. Therefore, it seems urgent for us to affirm, display and reflect its presence and importance. This year, the Tribune proposes to explore the question of spaces (geographical, linguistic, theoretical, etc.) of comparative literature in Canada – spaces of convergence but also spaces of tension. Among the issues we hope to tackle:

  • How does Canada constitute itself as a comparatist laboratory?
  • In what way(s) can comparative literature take (back) its place within institutional spaces, but also within public spaces?
  • How can we consider the very space of comparative literature, at the junction of a plurality of fields – intercultural, interdisciplinary, intermedial, etc.?
  • Finally, how are the limits of these theoretical, institutional and geo-political spaces asserted, obliterated or displaced?

We invite graduate students to present their research projects at any stage of their completion through the prism of these questions. Since the Tribune wishes to be a convivial space of exchange, of discussion and of experimentation, we encourage modes of theoretical and critical expression that are original, transmedial or collaborative. Test your research projects, debate your methodological approach, perform your thesis!

We welcome your proposals (150-200 words) until October 24, 2014 at the following email address: Please specify your university affiliation and your year of study. Your presentation of 10 to 15 minutes can be either in French or English, in the medium of your choice.

Check them out on Facebook

Mentoring Meeting

Instead of hosting Brown Bags this semester, we’re trying out a new kind of gathering: the informal mentorship meeting, where everyone is welcome to talk about projects they’re working on, share ideas, or ask questions about different stages of MA and PhD research. You are warmly invited to join us for the first session, which is being held this Friday, January 17th from 5-7PM at the GSU pub (16 Bancroft Avenue, on campus). Bonus: the pitchers are on us!


CFP: Comparative Literature in Canada Forum-Report: The State of the Field (CRCL/RCLC)

Graduate students and early career (pre-tenure) scholars in Canada working in the field of Comparative Literature are invited to submit 1000 word submissions to the Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/Révue canadienne de littérature comparée by December 21, 2013 reflecting on the discipline of Comparative Literature, on Comp Lit in  Canada, or demonstrating a brief example of Comparative Literature in action.  This forum-report will be a contribution to the state, future and health of the discipline and will invert the usual way of doing this, by inviting the contributions of students and recent graduates of Comparative Literature, rather than the most senior scholars.  It will constitute a forum or report from Canada on the discipline on the ground.  Please send submissions to Jonathan Hart, editor, CRCL/RCLC at and copied to You can also submit it formally through the submission on the CRCL/RCLC website (Instructions below).  The idea is to have brief and suggestive pieces rather than long and exhaustive contributions, more in the spirit of a forum, one of our regular features.  The forum-report will appear very soon in an issue of CRCL/RCLC.  We welcome submissions in French and English.

Instructions for Submitting through the CRCL/RCLC Portal:
To submit via the CRCL website:
-Log in (and/or register for new users) as author, then
-Click on the link under “Start a New Submission”.
-Then follow the instructions on that page and the rest of the five-step submission process.
-You will receive a confirmation email when your submission is received.

2013 Northrop Frye Professor, Jacques Rancière

The Centre for Comparative Literature presents

two public lectures by
2013 Northrop Frye Professor


5 pm, Sept. 26: Politics of Time, Time of  Politics

5 pm, Sept. 27: The Politics of  Fiction

Isabel Bader Theatre

University of Toronto, 93 Charles Street West, Toronto

These events are sponsored by Victoria University

Jacques Rancière, professor emeritus at the Université de Paris (St Denis) and faculty member at the European Graduate School, is one of the most read and most influential philosophers writing today.  No scholar working in the fields of politics, aesthetics, the philosophy of education, or the philosophy of history, can afford to ignore his work. But Rancière is also at the forefront of rethinking the nature of the scholar and the public intellectual along democratic and activist lines. Among his many works are Reading Capital (1968), The Nights of Labor: The Workers’ Dream in Nineteenth-Century France (1989), The Ignorant Schoolmaster; Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation (1991), The Names of History; On the Poetics of Knowledge (1994), On the Shores of Politics (1995), Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy (1998), The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible (2004), The Philosopher and his Poor (2004), The Flesh of Words (2004),The Future of the Image (2007), Hatred of Democracy (2007), The Aesthetic Unconscious (2009), The Emancipated Spectator (2009), Aesthetics and its Discontents (2009), Mute Speech (2011), The Politics of Literature (2011), andStaging the People: The Proletariat and his Double (2011).