Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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Comparative literature is always a problematic discipline. Scholars from different countries and times such as Rene Wellek, Charles Bernheimer, Susan Bassnett, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Djelal Kadir, have attempted to delimit its scope. The variety of definitions have led to ensuing problems of shifting methodologies and frameworks. If, in the early twentieth century, a scholar tended to interrogate and theorise how one distinguished comparative literature, world literature, and general literature from one another, towards the end of that century and potentially continuing well into the new millennium, the parameters surrounding disciplinary formation have significantly changed, leading to a shift in the set of questions. Should comparative literature be differentiated from the relatively recent disciplines of postcolonial studies and cultural studies? If so, what are its scope and defining qualities? These puzzling parameters are what this essay aims to explore, as it is high time we looked inward, thinking of the discipline itself as an imagined community whose terrain is constantly shifting. Following this line of argument, the essay intends to probe into the construction of the discipline and gauge its historical development.

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