Opening Lecture of the academic year 2017/2018

Forum Shopping: On Locating Other People’s Comparisons

Joseph Slaughter

Columbia University (USA)

Public Lecture

September 29th, 2017, 4 pm

Anfiteatro III – FLUL



Forum shopping is the legal practice, most notoriously associated with multinational corporations, of searching for a foreign court that might be likely to deliver a favorable judgment for a plaintiff. In this talk, I use the concept of forum shopping to name a practice that is all too common in the era of globalized literary studies: scholars, who may have little interest or expertise in literatures from elsewhere, seeking out texts, genres, and authors from other places to serve as literary data for the purposes of making a claim about literature in general. The practice often involves selectively mining comparative literature scholarship from the Global South in order to make theoretical arguments in the U.S. and European academies. I will consider the implications for comparative studies based on a number of examples from the contemporary fields of “Global Modernisms” and “World Literature.”