Modernizing Empires: Enlightenment, Nationalist Vanguards and Non-Western Literary Modernities


This project is a comparative study of cultural reforms, linguistic renewal and literary renaissance movements in three imperial traditions, caught between the East-West divide: Russia, Turkey and Japan. It looks at the negotiated cultural models in modernization and westernization processes and argues that their shared historical experience resulted in a common intellectual vocabulary and narrative models shared by otherwise extremely diverse cultures. Despite these unmistakable parallels, literary studies have failed to address this shared history. This project aims to bridge this gap by developing a comparative model, drawing a polycentric and plural map of literary modernity. In three subprojects, this project investigates structural similarities in 1.Questions and concepts in literary criticism; 2.Translational practices and translated works from Europe, and 3.Narrative logic and typologies in fiction. It is the first comparative multilingual study of the non-Western literary modernities to bring these specific traditions together. It contests Eurocentric models of literary history which interprets these cases as failures or late emulations. It challenges an overemphasis on single national traditions or on postcolonial approaches, and limited body of studied texts and analysis techniques in the study of the non-West. The project follows a multi-method research strategy to conduct historical and literary comparisons between the emerging national literary systems, combining qualitative and quantitative methods in order to map transnational networks of narrative strategies, conceptual systems and translation practices. It brings new directions in Digital Humanities, expanding it to non-Western and multilingual comparative research. Finally, it makes a much-needed contribution to the current literary corpus by making unknown and untranslated texts available and accessible.

Project details

Unibo Team Leader: Ozen Nergis Seckin Dolcerocca

Unibo involved Department/s:
Dipartimento di Lingue, Letterature e Culture Moderne

ALMA MATER STUDIORUM - Università di Bologna(Italy)

Other Participants:
Metu-Middle East Technical University (Turkey)

Total Eu Contribution: Euro (EUR) 1.457.660,00
Project Duration in months: 60
Start Date: 01/09/2021
End Date: 31/08/2026

Cordis webpage

UE flag This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 950513