Martin Puchner gives the second lecture in the Princeton University Press Lectures in European History and Culture. The idea of world literature contains an argument in favor of large-scale comparative projects. But most humanities disciplines have shied away from these sorts of projects, deterred by a skepticism with respect to grand narratives and worries about Eurocentric universalism. In this context, other disciplines from physics to biology have taken over the job of telling overarching stories.
Martin Puchner will argue that much gets lost when we neglect the big picture. But how should we humanists proceed, taking into account decades of critique? Through what kinds of collaborations can we insert what we know into the narratives our societies tell? In making this argument, Professor Puchner will be drawing on his experience with the Norton Anthology of World Literature.