- SSMS 2001
"How do tales travel?" by Professor Dominique Jullien
Literature, of course, is one of our oldest companions. Comparative literature is one of the earliest fields that have ‘internationalized’ and widened our perspectives, hosting, for instance, Edward Said and Gayatri Spivak. How do stories travel, how does consciousness travel? What can we learn from the global circulation of tales and story motifs? I look at the case of Jorge Luis Borges, arguably the most global of Latin American writers. In addition to his fantastic tales that earned him worldwide fame, Borges was also an important essayist. His reflections on the renunciation story at the heart of Buddhism (that of a king who leaves his palace to become an ascetic, an archetypal tale with innumerable variants) introduce the issues of cross-cultural adaptability and metamorphic nature of king-and-ascetic stories, and also show why renunciation stories, as wider cultural gestures, resonate powerfully and globally across politics, philosophy and aesthetics.
Dominique Jullien has been a Professor of Comparative Literature and French Studies at UCSB since 2006. Prior to joining UCSB, she was a Professor of French at Columbia University until 2006, and held visiting professorships at Saint Gallen University, Switzerland, and the Harvard Institute for World Literature. She holds a doctorate from Paris I-Sorbonne and is a Fellow of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris. At UCSB she is also founding director of the Graduate Center for Literary Research, which aims to enhance the experience of students and faculty by promoting interdisciplinary dialogues and encounters. Professor Jullien’s research centers on modern and contemporary fiction, with special focus on Marcel Proust and Jorge Luis Borges, on East-West relations, particularly western Orientalism and the reception of the 1001 Nights in western culture, and cognitive approaches to literature. Her most recent book is Borges, Buddhism and World Literature: a Morphology of Renunciation Tales (