Crafts of World Literature is a research collective founded in 2012 by Ben Etherington (Western Sydney, Australia) and Jarad Zimbler (Birmingham, UK). Our principal aim is to reorient postcolonial and world literary studies in the direction of literary technique. To this end, we have so far staged three international events: Crafts of World Literature (Oxford, 2012), Poetic Craft and White Settler Colonialism (Sydney, 2013) and Craft Wars: Comparative Perspectives on Poetry ’74.
The first conference led to a special issue of the Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Crafts of World Literature: Field, Material and Translation, co-edited with Rachel Bower (Cambridge, UK). The second produced Unsettled Poetics: Contemporary Australian and South African Poetry, a special issue of the international literary magazine Wasafiri. These, however, can hardly encompass the dynamic and rich conversations at the events and this website has been conceived as a means of sharing further essays and shorter pieces, and enabling conversations to continue. We have posted a selection of papers presented at our first conference, which have been curated by Charne Lavery (Wits, RSA) and Charlotta Salmi (Birmingham, UK), and will be adding papers from subsequent events soon.
In each of these undertakings, our focus on literary practice has been motivated by our conviction that technique is the way that art thinks, which is to say that it is the way art confronts us with the truths of our world. Our further conviction is that the work’s emergence into meaning occurs always in specific ‘contexts of intelligibility’: within fields and from materials that are always local, or at least located. Attending to ‘world literature’, therefore, entails comparing regional fields emerging in the wake of decolonization so as to identify the forces shaping them. Thinking through the homologies and divergences of fields and materials as they connect and cross-fertilize alerts us to their truth-content in world-historical totality.