This article reflects on Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s Death of a Discipline (2003) twenty years after its first publication. The discipline of Comparative Literature was not reborn in line with Spivak’s elegiac imperatives. Yet Death of a Discipline’s argument—that literary reading may affirm a certain vagueness and non-knowledge in the outlines of alterity—remains a compelling resource in a world of STEM, calculable probability, and the power of averages. In excess of its topical institutional intervention, Death of a Discipline indicates a range of enveloping generalities that both contain and make room for the future development of new practices in the Humanities. These point beyond the politics of identity and the power of an ideological average, suggesting work to come.

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