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This talk will explore the provenance of the contemporary novel in our global, hypervisual and war-torn era. With a foray into the novel’s eighteenth century genealogy in discourses of rights, sovereignty, sympathy and the humanitarian imagination, it will track the genre’s adaption and remediation of countervailing forces of our time, one that both reminds us of the novel’s modern origins and its transformative potential in our era of global capital.

Debjani Ganguly is Professor of English and the Director of the Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures at the University of Virginia. She has published widely in the fields of world literature, postcolonial studies and the South Asian Studies. Her research interests include the contemporary Anglophone novel, literary forms in the new media age, literature, war and human rights, caste and dalit studies, language worlds in colonial/postcolonial South Asia, and Indian Ocean literary worlds from 1750-1950. In recent years, Debjani has researched the links between globalism, information technology, war, ethnic violence and humanitarian connectivity through the genre of the novel, the result of which is a book with Duke UP entitled This Thing Called the World: The Contemporary Novel as Global Form (2016). She is the author of Caste, Colonialism and Countermodernity (2005) and coeditor of Edward Said: The Legacy of a Public Intellectual (2007) and Rethinking Gandhi and Nonviolent Relationality: Global Perspectives (2007). She is the general editor of a newly commissioned The Cambridge History of World Literature (2 volumes) and has recently edited a special issue of the journal South Asia on the theme ‘The Subaltern after Subaltern Studies’ (Vol 38, No.1, 2015). Other recent publications include essays on the novel after 1989, and the normative provenance of world literature in The Cambridge Companion to the Postcolonial Novel (2015) and The Values of Literary Studies(Cambridge UP 2015) respectively.  She co-edits with Ato Quayson and Neil Ten Kortenaar the Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry. Debjani has held visiting fellowships at the University of Chicago, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford and University of Michigan. She is on the seminar faculty of the Harvard Institute of World Literature, and a member on the international advisory boards of this Institute as also of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI), and the Duke-UVA-Bologna Academy in Global Humanities and Critical Theory.