Lecture I, May 22, 2000:CROSSING BORDERS

     This is the title of a recent Ford Foundation booklet explaining the need to rethink Area Studies after the Cold War. The first lecture establishes a critical solidarity with this call and proposes a coalition of Comparative Literature and Area Studies. The solidarity must remain critical because borders are easily crossed from metropolitan countries, whereas, going the other way, the so-called peripheral countries encounter bureaucratic and political frontiers, altogether more difficult to penetrate. Indeed, this notion of restricted permeability spreads right across the epistemological reaches of both Comparative Literature and Area Studies, with incalculable consequences. We are also critical of the possibility that the disciplinary coalition proposed here may be understood as merely a more or less reluctant concession to the changing times. It should in our view, be seen as a dynamic contained in the defining description of a "comparative literature." These arguments are consolidated with textual analyses of passages from Maryse Condé's novel Heremakhonon and J.M. Coetzee's novel Waiting for the Barbarians.