Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s Death of a Discipline powerfully linked the social-institutional conditions of literary reflection to the category of the geopolitical, in the hopes of a renewal of Comparative Literature, whose earlier aims at their best had been to shelter the international possibility of humanistic thought beyond the border. Yet, this discipline has often remained trapped by the only partial universality of its function, substituting for the world a microcosm of convivial European multilingualism and ambition of scope. Twenty years after its publication, Death of a Discipline notably upheld a space for the “singular unverifiability” that marks Comparative Literature at its best – not only the singularity of the written line, and the unverifiability of the reading of the literary text, but also the singular and the unverifiable as warnings against the positivist culturalism of the older area studies. In this sense, it must be taken as a profoundly affirmative text that still offers a vision of a genuine intellectual-institutional alternative: to open the theoretical humanities to the remote and fragile thinking of a genuine encounter with planetarity.

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