DFG Research Training Group Globalization and Literature. Representations, Transformations,  Interventions

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Emiel Nachtegael

Emiel Nachtegael, M.A.

former PhD Candidate

Emiel Nachtegael was a PhD Candidate at the Research Training Group from 2015 to 2017. Since 2017 he is a PhD Candidate at the University of Stockholm, Sweden.

Dissertation Abstract

My research aims at applying Lévi-Strauss's narratology of the world's myths to the field of World Literary Studies. Far from being outmoded, Lévi-Strauss's cultural anthropology, if applied flexibly, offers a fresh and interdisciplinary perspective on some methodological concerns regarding the reading model best suited for the expression of the 'universal'.
Whereas World Literary Studies mainly 'update' the hermeneutical part-whole dilemma of the nation-based philology to global writing (cf. Damrosch 2009:3) and still reasons in 'core/periphery' terminology, Lévi-Strauss’s textual anthropology has decentred such distinctions and observed cultures from a "regard de loin" (distant view).
Inspired by some clues in Lévi-Strauss's Oeuvres, I aim at developing a narratological methodology applicable to modern, i.e. post-mythical, literature. I will then confront the results with the two most prominent interpretation strategies in current World Literary Studies. First, I will take up some case studies Damrosch laid down and see how Lévi-Strauss's would have analysed them. Secondly, I will also re-assess Moretti's "distant" reading model by conducting a series of digital experiments, inspired both by Lévi-Strauss's suggestions on such laboratory experiments and by those conducted at Moretti's Stanford LitLab.
My dissertation will finally investigate whether a unified "close-distant" reading model for World Literary Studies, wished for by Damrosch, can be conceived in the complementarity of Lévi-Strauss's comparative mythology, enriched by and enriching traditional "close" comparative literature, as well as by Moretti's new "comparative morphology". With such a model at hand, scholars of comparative literature and World Literary Studies can finally address questions of cultural identity in a more genuine, global fashion.


"Coming home to modern Japan. An Orphic dialogue between Japan and the West in H. Murakami’s Norwegian Wood". In: The IAFOR Journal on Literature and Librarianship 2.2 (2013), S. 33-52. (Link to the PDF)

"New Dutch Pathways in Literary Analysis. Review of Vooys 33:2 (2015), special theme issue on 'The Fundamentals of Literary Theory,'" Journal of Dutch Literature, 8 (1). (Link to the website)