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

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Hrvoje Tutek, M.A.

Modes of Narrating the Struggle. The Politics of Literary Form in the Age of Capitalist Universality


Dissertation Abstract

The wave of debates on globalization, a term used to describe a conjuncture of economic, political, and cultural changes rapidly occurring on a global scale during the past few decades, left open a number of controversial questions about the ultimate consequences of those changes, as well as disagreements on the exact development of their historical dynamics. What seems indisputable, though, is that among the many serious consequences of the changes discussed and criticized in these debates is the development of new social conditions for the production, dissemination, and reception of cultural forms. It should be presumed, then, that in responding to these new conditions the cultural forms also had to change, and are now produced with the awareness of the imagined community of the "globalized world" as one of the primary contexts of their reception and operation (an awareness that was, possibly, made even more acute in the aftermath of the recent global economic crisis).
The globalized world in question is, of course, none other than the world of capitalist universality with its institutional frameworks (trasnational publishing and media corporations, commercial models of Internet content production, etc.) and ideological limitations (what Mark Fisher called "capitalist realism") for cultural production. Since this is also a world undergoing a prolonged crisis of historical imagination (Jameson's "It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism", or Fukuyama's "End of History"), it would also be easy to presume that under such conditions the productive, poietic, Utopian capacities of cultural forms that bend and challenge the ideological configuration of the broader discursive reality they arise from have also been stunted. The aim of my research is to examine to what extent this is true for the literary novel, and if it is not, to discover what kind of formal development has been required for literary narrative in the past quarter century to override such a monolithic ideological (and thus cognitive) barrier.
Consequently, I propose to identify and analyze novels produced in a range of local contexts of the "one and unequal" world-system which stand in an openly antagonistic relation to what might be called the cognitive dominant of capitalist universality, or in other words problematize in various ways the ideological compulsion to historical passivity. To do this, it is necessary to sketch out an alternative literary historiography (alternative to academically institutionalized literary historiographies of various national philologies, postcolonial theory, identity politics, etc.) whose interpretive horizon is based on critique of ideology and on a methodology emphasizing the influence of material conditions of capitalist universality for transnational development and dynamics of circulation of literary forms. In this way, I hope to theorize the existence of common, globally resonant narrative modes of "cognitively mapping" the complex of the world globalized by capital that point to the dynamics of change in the contemporary novel itself, as well as reveal new possibilities of critical engagement with the condition of capitalist universality. Such a project necessarily implies a focus on a wider range of texts and authors, including the Wu Ming Foundation collective, Roberto Bolaño, John Berger, Thomas Pynchon, and others.

Short CV

Since 2014 Lecturer at the English Department, University of Zagreb

Since 2012 PhD Candidate at the Research Training Group

2012: Diploma English Literature, Southern Slavic Studies and Comparative Literature, University of Zagreb


"Novel, Utopia, Nation: A History of Interdependence". In: Canadian Review of Comparative Literature. Special issue Novel beyond Nation, 42.4 (2015). Forthcoming.

"Croatian Romantic Patriotic Poetry" und "I. Mažuranić: The Death of Smail-aga Čengić". In: Joep Leerssen (ed.): Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe. Study Platform for Interlocking Nationalisms. 2014/2016. Print/Web.