The Promise and Premise of Creativity: Why Comparative Literature Matters

Author(s): Eugene Chen Eoyang

Literary theory

The Promise and Premise of Creativity considers literature in the larger context of globalization and "the clash of cultures." Refuting the view that the study of literature is "useless," Eoyang argues that it expands three distinct intellectual skills: creative imagination, vicarious sympathy, and capacious intuition.With the advent of the personal computer and the blurring of cultural and economic boundaries, it is the ability to imagine, to intuit, and to invent that will mark the educated student, and allow her to survive the rapid pace of change. As never before, the ability to empathize with other peoples, to understand cultures very different from one's own, is vital to success in a globalized world. In this, the very "uselessness" of literature may inure the mind to think creatively. Engaging with both the theory and practice of literature, its past and its potential future, Eoyang claims that our sense of the world at large, of the salient similarities and differences between cultures, would be critically diminished without comparative literature.


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Eugene Eoyang is Professor Emeritus of English, Humanities, Translation, and General Education at Lingnan University, Hong Kong, China, and Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Indiana University, USA.

Foreword; Preliminaries; 1. Why Study Literature?; 2. What's the Story--The Relevance of Literature to Life; 3. The Uses of the Useless: Comparative Literature and the Multinational Corporation; Approaches; 4. Macintosh Apples and Mandarin Oranges: Comparing East and West.; 5. Cuentos Chinos ("Chinese Tales"): The Exotic Imaginary; 6. Francophone Cathay: Gallicizing China; 7. The Persistence of Cathay: China in World Literature; 8. The Emergence of the Southern Hemisphere in Literature: Neglected Domains; 9. Cross-Cultural Perspectives on the Modern and the Postmodern: Ethnocentricities; 10. Cultural Logics: Contradiction vs. Maodun; 11. Dialectical Maodun in the Works of Octavio Paz: The Mestizo Mind; 12. Meaningful and Meaningless Comparison: The Heuristic and the Invidious; Prospects; 13. The Globalization of Knowledge: Comparative Literature as Interdisciplinary and Multilingual Discourse; 14. The Glocalization of Knowledge: The Ends of the World or the Edge of Heaven; 15. The Undisciplined Discipline: Comparative Literature and Creative Wandering; 16. Synergies and Synaesthesia: An Intraworldly Comparative Literature; Bibliography; Index.

General Fields

  • : 9781441181039
  • : Continuum Publishing Corporation
  • : Continuum Publishing Corporation
  • : September 2012
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Eugene Chen Eoyang
  • : Paperback
  • : 208