CFP—State of the Discipline Report

Dear ACLA member,

The Bylaws of the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) mandate that a State of the Discipline Report be prepared by the association every decade. The five previous reports (1965, 1975, 1993, 2006, and 2014) have become landmarks in the history of the discipline, chronicling its developments intellectually and institutionally. Taken together, those reports tell a story of Comparative Literature’s increasing openness to the world beyond Europe, a widening range of interdisciplinary approaches, and a gradual democratization of the process of producing the Report itself: from prescriptive statements issued by eminent scholars at elite institutions to the wide-open format of the 2010s, in which a large number of comparatists from a broad spectrum of institutions and ranks contributed to a mosaic of comparative practices. As co-chairs of the editorial committee of the 2020s Report, we invite you to share your perspective on the developments, transformations, continuities, challenges, opportunities, and any other aspect of significance for Comparative Literature at the present time. We welcome essays of 1,000-5,000 words, to be submitted through the “Submit an Entry” link on this website. The website will remain open for submissions until May 1, 2024. All submissions will be reviewed by the Editorial Committee. The online version of the Report will be launched in fall 2024.

Submissions by students, graduate and advanced undergraduate, are encouraged.

Please submit your essay to only one of the following sections. The questions below are meant only as suggestions; feel free to address others you deem relevant.


Languages, grounds, translation

How has multilingualism fared in the past decade? What is the sphere of comparison now? Which languages have newly emerged within the purview of Comparative Literature, which remain central or marginal, and which have dropped out? How are the grounds for comparison among linguistic traditions being established? What kinds of relations continue to be relevant? Which ones are being formed? Which have become problematic, and why? What role has translation played in literary scholarship and pedagogy?

Section editors: Theo D’haen and Irene Sywenky


Theories, paradigms, methods, keywords

What new ideas, approaches, and concepts emerged in the past decade? How have existing theories, methods, and paradigms evolved? Which have emerged, or reemerged? How is Comparative Literature today informed by disciplinary, interdisciplinary, philological, postcolonial, digital, environmental, medical, social science, and other methodologies?

Section editors: Dina Al-Kassim and Ranjana Khanna


Worlds, regions, minorities, geopolitics

How have the categories of World Literature, area studies, minorities, diaspora, migration, and refugees challenged or critiqued the idea of national literature? Which scales of comparison have gained purchase over the past decade? How do they intersect with, nest within, reinforce, contest, or cancel one another? How does geopolitics shape the space and the priorities of Comparative Literature?

Section editors: Dina Al-Kassim and Theo D’haen


Histories, temporalities, periodization

What historical categories and/or temporal paradigms are newly relevant to Comparative Literature? Which have been questioned, modified, or bypassed in the last decade? Which periods, and which geo-cultural temporalities, have come to the attention of comparatists recently? How is the tension between historicism and presentism being negotiated? What histories of the present, and of presentism, inform comparative practices today?

Section editors: Sangeeta Ray and Irene Sywenky


Power, justice, ethics

In what old and new ways have colonialism, indigeneity, race, ethnicity, gender, class, and other forms of hegemony impacted Comparative Literature over the past decade? How has the discipline responded (or not)? What forms of ethical engagement in scholarship, teaching, and public outreach are available to comparatists today?

Section editors: Chadwick Allen and Rei Terada


Institutions, pedagogy, employment

How have the working conditions of comparatists changed over the past decade? What new challenges present themselves? Where have student enrollments declined or increased? What teaching strategies have continued, emerged, or changed to meet the challenges of the past decade? What are the implications of the ongoing job crisis for graduate programs in Comparative Literature? How should we be preparing students for career both within and without the academy?

Section editors: Sangeeta Ray and Rei Terada


We hope that you will consider contributing to the State of the Discipline Report of the 2020s.


Waïl S. Hassan & Shu-mei Shih

Editorial Committee Co-Chairs