Wiebke Denecke - Professor of Chinese, Japanese, and Comparative Literature, Boston University
In the midst of sweeping new paradigms of “global history,” “world literature,” or “world philology,” what specifically can Eurasian comparisons contribute to our understanding of the premodern world? This lecture analyzes practices of Eurasian comparisons over the past decades, asking what kind of work has been done, who has engaged in this work and to what effect. It then reflects on the glass ceilings and inequalities involved in comparisons of premodern Eurasia, and addresses the ethical challenges and responsibilities that are at stake in doing this kind of work. Throughout, the lecture throws light on how in particular the emerging study of the interconnections between various East Asian polities might shape future Eurasian comparisons in a way that can energize, even reconfigure the study of Western antiquity.